Author Topic: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end  (Read 1452 times)

Offline Glom

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Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« on: March 15, 2017, 05:39:19 PM »
As Swigert is powering up the Odyssey, the FIDO says they're continuing to shallow in the trajectory. This is attributed to being underweight due to lack of moon rocks.

But this makes no sense. They may not have rocks, but they do have a LM in tow, so if anything, they should be overweight. And anyway, the mass of the spacecraft has no effect on its trajectory.

So Lovell and Haise are told to move some ballast from Aquarius to Odyssey. But this is addressing the problem of being underweight, it is just shifting weight around.

The movie got very confused. The trajectory issue, caused by the leaking sublimator, was ongoing but they couldn't do much at that point. The ballast issue is about the completely separate issue of making sure the centre of mass of the command module is in the right place so reentry can work.

Offline LunarOrbit

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 11:07:54 PM »
It's been a while since I watched the movie, so I might be remembering it wrong, but the way I understood it was that they were discussing the predicted trajectory that the CM would take after separation and entering the atmosphere.

They were still following the plan for the original mission which had taken into account that there would be moon rocks on board the CM, so they needed to adjust the plan to reflect the actual situation.

Edit: I just watched that scene, and you're right that it is confusing the way it's written because it does imply that they were shallowing at the time that the request to shift ballast was made. But I think in reality they were concerned about just the trajectory of the CM after separation/entry.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2017, 11:18:26 PM by LunarOrbit »
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Offline Peter B

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #2 on: March 16, 2017, 06:11:35 AM »
As Swigert is powering up the Odyssey, the FIDO says they're continuing to shallow in the trajectory. This is attributed to being underweight due to lack of moon rocks.

But this makes no sense. They may not have rocks, but they do have a LM in tow, so if anything, they should be overweight. And anyway, the mass of the spacecraft has no effect on its trajectory.

So Lovell and Haise are told to move some ballast from Aquarius to Odyssey. But this is addressing the problem of being underweight, it is just shifting weight around.

The movie got very confused. The trajectory issue, caused by the leaking sublimator, was ongoing but they couldn't do much at that point. The ballast issue is about the completely separate issue of making sure the centre of mass of the command module is in the right place so reentry can work.

I'm happy to chalk that one up to dramatic license.

Sure, the shallowing trajectory was a real problem which needed to be managed, complicated by the fact that Mission Control didn't know its cause.

Including it in the story is realistic, as it belongs in the context of all the low-level challenges the crew were facing towards the end of the mission (having enough power to power up the CM, the danger of powering up amidst the moisture, the crew's tiredness, Haise's infection and the cold). The problem in movie terms is portraying the solution and the cause: the solution was firing the RCS, but we'd already seen rockets in operation so seeing another rocket firing makes firing rockets seem like the catch-all solution; and the cause was not only not uncovered until weeks after the mission ended, it was a fairly obscure and technical problem which would be hard to portray in the movie.

So how do you resolve the tension caused by a problem where portraying either the solution or the cause will be dramatically unsatisfying? By portraying the solution to a similar-ish problem which was itself easy to explain and dramatically satisfying to portray. Sure it wasn't technically accurate, but it was likely to be good enough for a non-technical audience.

Remember, the movie already had form for fiddling with events to either smooth the narrative flow or provide visual drama (for examples, ascribing the swapping of the crews of A13 and A14 to a flare-up of Shepard's ear problems rather than concerns about the crew's lack of experience, and showing the swing-arms at launch retracting one at a time instead of simultaneously).

But in the end, despite these issues, the movie was technically far more rigorous and accurate than many other movies which are either "based on real events" or set in space in near our time ("Space Dogs", for example, or "Armageddon"). Consider, for example, that even most people who post on this board would have to take it on trust that the actors were actually punching the correct keys on the DISKYs, as they said they learned to do. And credit to the writers and producers for their willingness to not simplify a lot of the technical issues and terminology which lay at the heart of the story.

Offline Kiwi

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #3 on: March 16, 2017, 11:23:57 AM »
If you want to get really picky....

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: The film contains an explicit notice that "certain characters and events have been fictionalized for dramatic purposes", so these changes are not goofs. For instance, the Lovells did not host a party during the Apollo 11 landing; Ken Mattingly was already at Mission Control when the Apollo 13 accident happened, and was not really the person who devised the power-up procedure. There are various other minute contradictions of history and the film is prey to a large number of factual errors due to the large volume of documentary footage/evidence from the actual event. This is not a documentary.

Anachronisms: In the opening sequence with Apollo 1, the crew uses a black keyboard (Block II). The keyboard on Apollo 1 was white (Block I).

Errors made by characters: As Neil Armstrong walks on the moon, Walter Cronkite says the Apollo 11 landing is 18 months after the tragic Apollo 1 launchpad fire. It was actually 30 months after.

Factual errors: After the party, Lovell holds his thumb in front the gibbous moon. Then, telling Marilyn where to find "her" mountain, he says the Sea of Tranquility is "where the shadow crosses the white part." The terminator was in fact near the Sea of Tranquility on July 20, 1969, but the moon was less than half full; it's depicted in the scene as gibbous, with the terminator on the other side.

Factual errors: When Jim Lovell is standing in his garden looking at the moon (one eye closed) he covers and uncovers the moon (from his perspective) with his thumb. Since the moon was the only light source in this situation, the shadow of his thumb would have to be shading his eye. But the third person perspective shows the thumb's shadow elsewhere.

Factual errors: In Houston the moon set that night at about midnight CDT, while the Apollo 11 astronauts were returning to their Lunar Module; hence it would not be visible after the party at the Lovells'.

Anachronisms: In April 1970, Lovell's daughter can be seen holding the Beatles' "Let it Be" album, which wasn't released until May 1970.

Revealing mistakes: When the astronauts are standing in the moving elevator, the reflection in their helmets is of the stationary elevator.

Anachronisms: NASA's "worm" logo was not developed until 1975.

Anachronisms: A technician is wearing a Rockwell International logo on his coveralls. North American Rockwell became Rockwell International only in 1973 when they acquired Collins Radio.

Factual errors: The launch tower was on the north side of the Saturn V. If Mattingly was watching from east of the pad near the beach, then he would see it on the right.

Factual errors: In the launch sequence, we see a countdown that ends with ignition of the first stage engines; we see the Saturn V take off about 20 seconds later, and as Lovell points out, the clock starts counting forward then. In fact the ignition sequence for a Saturn V rocket began 8.9 seconds before liftoff, with the countdown reaching zero at the nominal time of takeoff, not at ignition; the clock would then immediately begin counting upward.

Revealing mistakes: The downward view toward the rocket rising from the pad shows cars in the parking lots. During an actual launch, the pad was completely evacuated and the lots would have been empty.

Continuity: Houston confirms that the BPC (Boost Protective Cover) is cleared before it is jettisoned by Lovell.

Factual errors: Rockets burning hydrogen/oxygen (Saturn V second and third stages), or the hypergolic fuels used on all Service Module and Lunar Module engines and thrusters, have in a vacuum essentially invisible plumes, not the bright white plumes depicted.

Continuity: When Mattingly goes to bed and takes the phone off the hook, the position of the receiver is different when he is woken up.

Factual errors: The actual explosion took place at MET (Mission Elapsed Time) 055:54:53, a full hour before the time shown.

Factual errors: "Houston, we have a problem," is probably the world's most known misquote. After the bang, the conversation was as follows. Swigert: "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here." Charlie Duke: "This is Houston. Say again please." Lovell: "Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt."

Continuity: Just after the explosion, when Lovell is saying "We've got multiple caution and warnings, Houston," the MET clock (Mission Elapsed Time in hours, minutes, and seconds) is plainly visible reading 091:34:10. When next seen less than a minute later, it has backed up to 056:55:12.

Crew or equipment visible: When Lovell is looking out the window and sees the oxygen escaping, a hand is visible in the bottom left corner of the window.

Continuity: Before Gene Kranz calls for people to "Listen Up People" in mission control, we see Deke Slayton move from the back row to CAPCOM row 3 times.

Factual errors: The seas are the dark parts.

Factual errors: The astronauts are shown looking at Mare Tranquilitatis, then crossing from sunlight into shadow, followed by loss of signal, all within seconds. In fact at loss of signal they had been in the moon's shadow for some time and were nowhere near Mare Tranquilitatis.

Factual errors: While passing over Tsiolkovsky crater on the moon's far side, the astronauts also speak of sighting Fra Mauro and Mare Imbrium, both nearly halfway around the moon.

Factual errors: Just after acquisition of signal, Houston tells the astronauts that their speed is "approximately 7,062 feet per second" and their altitude above the moon is 56 nautical miles. That speed is 500 ft/s below lunar escape velocity at that altitude, hence impossible on a free return trajectory. In fact, any free return trajectory symmetrical about the moon-earth line would put them at over 100 nautical miles altitude at acquisition of signal.

Continuity: Jack Sweigert's "NO" sign is briefly seen on the instrument panel before he actually puts it there.

Factual errors: A TV scene at Mission Control shows Houston Astros player Jimmy Wynn hitting a home run on 13 April 1970. The Astros were shut out by the Los Angeles Dodgers 2-0 that day. The home run shown was hit 10 June 1967, in a game between Cincinnati and Houston, it was the longest in Crosley field history.

Anachronisms: The controller giving the typhoon prediction for the landing area can be seen holding a full color satellite picture of the region. There were no color satellite pictures at the time - especially not in (near) real time.

Crew or equipment visible: When Marilyn Lovell is standing in front of the sliding glass door in her kitchen, a crew member is briefly visible on the left side of the window.

Anachronisms: "Mr. Coffee"-type drip pots weren't in use at the time.

Continuity: A red ashtray and a paper cup in the control center disappear between shots.

Continuity: During the re-entry simulation with Swigert, Fred Haise communicates with Houston after they confirmed radio blackout.

Factual errors: In some cold scenes in the LEM, breath is visible. The warm breath rises, which wouldn't happen in a weightless environment.

Crew or equipment visible: A bearded crew member is visible in the lower right corner of the screen towards the end of the movie, about the time Jack jettisons the service module.

Continuity: Shortly before re-entry, a NASA reading 34,802 feet per second, range to go 26,025 nautical miles," and Gene Kranz has his top button done up and his tie pulled up. Before worker says, " Velocity now and after this shot, Kranz's shirt and tie are undone.

Anachronisms: The television that Blanch Lovell watches the final splashdown on is a Sharp model that was not made until the late 1980s.

Audio/visual unsynchronized: News reporters outside of Lovell's home during landing voices are out of synch with the video (observed on the IMAX version.)

Continuity: At the end of the film, Gene Kranz sits down in his chair and puts his hand to his head. A few seconds later, in the shot showing Ken Mattingly, Kranz can be seen in the background sitting down again in the same manner.

****

Not sure where I got that stuff from now, probably IMDB and maybe some other website(s), then put them all together in roughly chronological order.

The one that made me cringe most at my first viewing was ignition of the Saturn V starting at zero instead of 8.9 seconds earlier. I was a bit surprised at that because of Tom Hanks being a space nut all his life. Worse still, they repeated the mistake in From the Earth to the Moon when they had Dave Scott as a treasured advisor:--

From the Earth to the Moon DVD 5, Behind the Scenes: The Making of...
0:08:50   Dave Scott as technical consultant
0:09:04   Scott driving the Apollo 15 Rover
0:09:10   Ron Howard:  He was also kind of inspiring, because at one point he said, "You guys are making a movie and I appreciate that.  You want it to be entertaining and exciting, and I know you all have your jobs to do, but here's a chance to actually get a record down, and to show people in a way that documentary footage never really can.  And I know there are limits, but isn't that a worthwhile kind of additional goal?"  And so it was very inspiring.  You'd hear that and you'd just kind of nod and say, "Yes, Commander!"
0:09:39   Brian Grazer:  And these astronauts, Dave Scott or Jim Lovell, the way they talk is in such a low-key way that it's such a non-hypey way of communicating, that is completely aberrant to the way we are in Hollywood.
0:09:52   While checking all props, equipment and spacecraft procedures, Scott also coached the actors on the personalities and behaviour of the men of Apollo
0:10:06   Dave Scott:  Most of the actors, in fact all of them, were very interested in how Mike Collins did this or did that, or Al Bean did this or did that, so they could portray the individuals accurately.  And then when we started shooting, I would sit next to the director and respond to any questions he may have, or tap him on the shoulder and say, "Maybe something like this."
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 12:03:13 PM by Kiwi »
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Offline AtomicDog

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #4 on: March 16, 2017, 04:15:56 PM »
At least it's not like the most recent episode of "DC Legends". In their recreation of Apollo 13, they put SEATS in the Lunar Module!

I usually enjoy the show,  but that episode had me banging my head against the wall.
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Offline smartcooky

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #5 on: March 16, 2017, 07:45:40 PM »
...Ken Mattingly was already at Mission Control when the Apollo 13 accident happened, and was not really the person who devised the power-up procedure.

I disagree with that. I don't think the movie implies that he was solely responsible for devising the checklist.

Although not entirely responsible for the power up procedure, Aaron and Mattingly were nonetheless key players, and it was Mattingly's idea to use the LM residual power in reverse to "top-charge" the CM  re-entry batteries, which ultimately allowed them to make the power up procedure come "within budget".

https://educheer.com/the-true-story-of-apollo-13/

"Another problem to be solved for a safe return was accomplishing a complete power-up from scratch of the completely shut-down Command Module, something never intended to be done in-flight. Flight controller John Aaron, with the support of grounded astronaut Mattingly and many engineers and designers, had to invent a new procedure to do this with the ship's limited power supply and time factor. This was further complicated by the fact that the reduced power levels in the LM caused internal temperatures to drop to as low as 4 °C (39 °F). The unpowered CM got so cold that water began to condense on solid surfaces, causing concern that this might short out electrical systems when it was reactivated. This turned out not to be a problem, partly because of the extensive electrical insulation improvements instituted after the Apollo 1 fire."

However, if you are arguing that Arnie Aldrich didn't get enough credit for what he did in this regard, then I agree. Aaron and Aldrich probably knew more about Odyssey's electrical systems and its limitations than anyone else at JSC. Aldrich's name features quite prominently in Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger's 1994 book Apollo 13.

The movie implied that Aaron and Mattingly worked directly together in the training building where Mattingly was in the CM simulator, but AIUI, that is not how it really happened. It was Aldrich who was responsible for working out the switch throwing combinations which he did from Aaron's electrical budget calculations. Aldrich would send his proposed check-list to Gene Krantz, who would in turn send it to Mattingly. The latter would then run through the checklist and phone back to the Tiger Team in Room 210 with a yay or nay. They repeated this procedure until they got a checklist that worked.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2017, 08:36:09 PM by smartcooky »
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Offline onebigmonkey

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Re: Apollo 13 the movie got very confused at the end
« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2017, 12:24:34 PM »
In the book Apollo 13, the allowance for ballast was already known about in plenty of time, but they didn't seem to have any real idea why the trajectory was shallowing - it just was, so they worked out what to do about it :D