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Apollo 13, NASA's Ill-Fated Lunar Mission, Launched 42 Years Ago (PHOTOS)

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Astronauts from left to right, Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr., Command Module pilot John L. Swigert Jr. and Commander, James A. Lovell Jr.
Astronauts from left to right, Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise Jr., Command Module pilot John L. Swigert Jr. and Commander, James A. Lovell Jr.

April 11, 2012 marks the 42nd anniversary of the launch of Apollo 13, the ill-fated moon mission and the heroic rescue effort that brought the stricken capsule and all three astronauts safely back to Earth.

The launch came off without a hitch, and for two days the mission preceded as planned. Then an oxygen tank exploded, dashing hopes of a lunar landing and putting into jeopardy the lives of Commander James A. Lovell, Command Module pilot John L. "Jack" Swigert, and Lunar Module pilot Fred W. Haise. From then on, the goal was simply to save the astronauts.

It was dicey business. A power shortage forced the astronauts to endure temperatures as low as 40 °F, and an accumulation of carbon dioxide inside the command module forced to crew to make an improvised air filtration device. Ultimately, of course, the crew splashed down safely in the South Pacific.

The mission was memorably depicted in the critically acclaimed 1995 film "Apollo 13," and images of the improvised air filter that saved the day (known as the "mail box") were widely circulated.

But what did the rest of the mission look like? From the in-suit trainings that preceded the mission to the astronauts enjoying a steak and eggs breakfast on the fateful day, the images in the slideshow below give an in-depth look at what happened before, after and during the crisis.

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