The Michigan Daily - Thursday, April 13, 1995 - 13
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Splish splash, I was taking a bath MICHAEL FTZHUGH/Daily
:iembers of Bird Rescue of Huron Valley wash oil off of a loon's body in a sink at the Art School yesterday.
.NASA scoffs at superstition,
but no more '13' missions
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP)
- Apollo 13's astronauts and flight
;ontrollers scoffed at it from the start.
Superstitious about the number 13?
*Bring on the black cats, they said.
Even when an oxygen tank in the
spaceship exploded on April 13, 1970
- 25 years ago today - and the
.noon mission was aborted, Apollo
13 commander Jim Lovell, his crew
md NASA refused to believe it had
anything to do with fate.
Lovell wasn't superstitious then
mnd he's not now. But he's not so sure
"NASA officially claims that
::hey're not superstitious about 13,"
he said. "But I dare you to go back in
she logs and look at any other (manned)
spacecraft after Apollo 13 that ever
had the number 13 in it. There is not
another - and most of them were
shuttles - there's not one shuttle that
NASA stopped numbering shuttle
lf'ights in normal sequence after the
iinth in 1983 because launch delays
were jumbling the order. Instead, a
:onfounding combination of numbers
ind letters was used.
The 13th shuttle flight became 41-
NASA's 13th Pioneer space probe
was called Pioneer Venus 2 or the
Pioneer Venus Multiprobe - rarely
Pioneer 13. It reached Venus in 1978
four months after launch.
NOAA-13, a weather satellite de-
veloped by NASA for the National
Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminis-
tration, fell silent 12 days after its
Hmmm, makes you wonder.
Save yourself the energy, NASA
officials say. *
"I've been with the Pioneer project
and NASA for 32 years, and I never in
all my years have heard any kind of
talk about superstition," said Pioneer
project manager Fred Wirth. "Oh,
occasionally somebody says, 'You
don't want to do that (spacecraft ma-
neuver) on Friday the 13th.' But it's
kind of in a joke."
Former NASA historian Alex
Roland isn't surprised the space
agency assigned the number 13 to
what was supposed to be the third
manned moon landing (and the sub-
ject of a soon-to-be-released movie
starring Tom Hanks as Lovell).
"It just reflected their whole cul-
ture: This is not about fate or chance
or luck or anything. We engineered it,
and so it's going to work," Roland
Astronaut Thomas "Ken"
Mattingly, in fact, wanted a Friday
the 13th launch so the mission patch
could bear a picture of a black cat. As
it turns out, Mattingly was exposed to
German measles a week before liftoff
and was bumped off Apollo 13. Jack
Swigert replaced him.
Apollo 13 was launched on Tues-
plus one plus one plus seven plus zero
equals 13. Launch time was 2:13 p.m.
at Kennedy Space Center, 1:13 p.m.
at Mission Control in Houston or 13:13
"No one gave it a thought," said
Apollo 13 lead flight director Gene
Kranz. "But it's the kind of thing that
when you look at it five or 10 or 20
years later, you look at all the coinci-
No one denies luck played a part
in getting Lovell, Swigert and Fred
The oxygen tank ruptured when
the three astronauts were 200.000
miles from Earth, four-fifths of the
way to the moon. They used the lunar
lander, with its own oxygen, power
and steering, as a lifeboat.
If the explosion had occurred after
the lunar lander had separated from
the command ship to take Lovell and
Haise down to the moon's surface,
"we wouldn't have made it," Kranz
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