In Lost in Outer Space, three Apollo 13 astronauts float in a crippled spaceship two hundred thousand miles from home. Will they make it back to Earth alive?
- The three men aboard Apollo 13 were a mix of seasoned and rookie astronauts. Discuss how the author describes the opening scene in the tiny space capsule and how the attitude between the new and veteran astronauts differed.
- How was mission commander Jim Lovell’s family affected at the beginning of the mission? How did their lives change once the mission was in peril? How much information had Barbara’s parents shared with her about the dangers of her father’s job, both before and during the mission? Should they have told her more?
- The crew had named each of the main parts of the ship. They nicknamed the command module Odyssey, which means “a long voyage marked by changes of fortune.” How did the nickname foretell what was to come for Apollo 13?
- What task was astronaut Swigert completing when Lovell uttered the now famous phrase, “Houston, we’ve had a problem”?
- The period of the Cold War between the Soviet Union and the United States greatly affected advances in space exploration. What event by the Soviet Union sparked a greater focus on the part of the United States to establish a presence in space? Why were Americans frightened by the Soviet Union’s actions in space?
- Describe what happened to the crew of Grissom, Chaffee, and White on the test run of liftoff procedures in the first Apollo mission. How did the Apollo 13 astronauts cope with the very dangerous nature of their jobs?
- Early explorers relied on the stars to navigate their ships to uncharted lands. Modern-day astronauts primarily relied on computers for navigation. How did the experience of the Apollo 13 crew members resemble the travels of early explorers?
- Once the spacecraft was damaged, the crew of Apollo 13 and the experts at NASA changed the mission from a moon landing to getting the astronauts safely back to Earth. What problems did the astronauts have to solve in order to get back home alive?
- There were many challenging issues in the cramped LEM — from freezing cold temperatures to a low water supply. What was the problem with carbon dioxide and why was this issue potentially very dangerous for the astronauts?
- The Apollo 13 crew had been trained to keep emotions in check and to focus on the task at hand. Most astronauts would tell reporters that they didn’t have time to be frightened while in space because they were too busy doing their job. Contrast this stoic stance with the families of the astronauts back in Houston. How was Barbara Lovell in particular coping with her dad’s uncertain fate?
- As Apollo 13 rocketed back to Earth and details to ensure a safe reentry were being implemented, support for the returning astronauts came flooding in from all corners of the world. Even the Soviet Union ordered two ships to change course and to head to the splashdown site to help if needed. Given that the United States and the Soviet Union were locked in a Cold War, why do you think that the Soviet Union volunteered to help?