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Messages - Acanthus

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I thought I might share some more scenes/lines from the movie that stood out to me as interesting! In no particular order, here they are:

1. Farewell, Aquarius: When Apollo 13’s beloved liftboat and lunar module Aquarius is jettisoned in the movie, Fred Haise woefully remarks, “She sure was a good ship”.
In reality, it is Jack Swigert who says this.

(142:31:13) Swigert, “She sure was a good ship”:

Additionally, CAPCOM Joe Kerwin can be heard saying 'Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you' in the same movie scene. This line is genuine.

(141:30:05) Kerwin, “Farewell, Aquarius, and we thank you”:

2. Haise’s Illness: The urinary tract and kidney infection that left Fred Haise in pain for the last several hours of the flight goes undiscussed on the air-to-ground loop. However, the movie scene in which Lovell is seen embracing Haise to share his body heat is taken almost word-for-word from Jim Lovell’s book, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, as well as other accounts about the mission.

I was unfortunately unable to track down a YouTube clip of this scene, but here’s an except from Lovell’s book:

“Staring out his porthole at the panorama outside, Lovell said, 'Freddo, it’s about time we bailed out of this ship.'
From behind him, Haise said nothing.
Lovell turned to face his crewmate and was brought up short by what he saw. Braced against the bulkhead, Haise was a paler shade of grey than Lovell had seen him the entire trip. With his eyes closed and his arms folded tightly against his chest for warmth, he had begun to shake violently with chills.
'Fred!' Lovell said, allowing more alarm than he had intended to creep into his voice. 'You look awful.'
'Forget it,' Haise said with an unconvincing wave. Forget it. I’m fine.'
'Yeah,' Lovell said, drifting over to him. 'You look just terrific. Can you hold out two more hours?'
'I can hold out as long as I have to.'
'Two hours, that’s all you have to hang on for. After that, we’re floating in the South Pacific, we open the hatch, and it’s 80 degrees outside.'
'Eighty degrees,' Haise repeated a little dreamily, and began to shiver again.
'Man,' Lovell muttered, 'You are a mess.' Moving up behind Haise, the commander wrapped him in a bear hug, to share his body heat. At first the gesture seemed to accomplish nothing, but gradually the trembling subsided.”
(Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger, pages 325-326).

Lovell also remarks in his book that Haise was not exactly keen on “accepting inquires into the matter,” hence why we probably didn’t hear anything about Haise’s illness in the air-to-ground loop. I also believe that there were certain patient confidentiality measures that NASA had to follow; besides the CAPCOM, the flight surgeons were the only people in Mission Control that could occasionally talk directly to the astronauts to maintain privacy.

3. Medical Mutiny: Alright, this one is one of my favorites. In the movie, after receiving a request from the flight surgeons that the astronauts get some sleep, Jim Lovell grows impatient. He tears off his biomedical sensors--the array of electrodes and wires that recorded body the vitals stats of the astronauts and relayed them down to the ground. Much to the flight surgeon’s bewilderment, Haise and Swigert soon follow suit, and all three astronaut’s heart rates flatline on mission control’s displays.
When the CAPCOM inquires as to why they’ve suddenly lost biomedical telemetry, Lovell’s reply is terse: “I’m not wearing my biomed sensors, Houston.” Classic.

You can watch the scene here:

Okay, let me break this scene down.
It is true that Lovell did remove his biomed sensors. Houston is asking for Lovell to switch his biomedical sensors on and trying to understand why they are receiving no telemetry. Lovell’s reply is very similar to the movie:

(098:54:45) Lovell, “Now you know, Houston, I don’t have BIOMED on”:
Listen for a flight controller’s exclamation of, “oh, okay!” directly after on one of mission control’s loops.

A couple of other things: I haven’t found any evidence that Haise and Swigert also removed their biomed monitors as they did in the movie. I’m inclined to think it was just Lovell.
Also note in the movie scene that Jim Lovell says “I’m sick and tired of the entire western world knowing how my kidneys are functioning!” In reality, Apollo-era biomedical monitoring systems did not monitor kidney function. From what I understand, they only tracked pulse, blood pressure, respiratory rate, and body temperature.
As far as motivation goes, Lovell discusses why he removed his biomeds in his book. According to him, he took them off for a few reasons: the glue on the electrodes was itchy and uncomfortable, he wanted to save power, and he was bothered by the issue of privacy. “Jim Lovell had long prided himself on his ability to keep emotions out of his voice… But while the voluntary nervous system responds to such exertions of will, the involuntary one doesn’t, and nobody could control the accelerated respiration and triphammer heartbeat that even the most impenetrable pilot could experience in an emergency.” (Lovell and Kluger, 270)
Finally, in case you missed it in the transcript, you can also hear a recording of some biomedical telemetry here:

I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that for now. I hope somebody out there finds these interesting! I’d love to hear your thoughts. :)

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