Science: Back to Fra Mauro

After a thorough probe of the accident that crippled Apollo 13 and endangered the lives of Astronauts James Lovell, Fred Raise and Jack Swigert, NASA Deputy Administrator George Low announced last week that the space agency had determined the probable cause: a short circuit that led to the explosion of an oxygen tank in the service module.

Investigators believe that the short occurred either in a fan used to stir supercooled oxygen in the tank, or in wiring leading to the fan. In the presence of pure oxygen, the short could have ignited insulation, wires, or even the aluminum parts within the...

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