In 1969, NASA successfully landed astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the moon. A year later, Apollo 13 launched under the leadership of Flight Commander Jim Lovell, Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise Jr., and Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert. The crew experienced problems even before take-off; a member of the backup crew had exposed them to the German measles, resulting in the original pilot Ken Mattingly being replaced with Jack Swigert. Roughly sixty hours into the flight, oxygen tank number two exploded and the crew was forced to move to the Lunar Module.
NASA officials moved quickly to come up with a plan to return the astronauts home safely. They worked around the clock to rewrite reentry procedures for the damaged craft and to fix supplies of consumables such as air and water for the astronauts as well. On April 17, 1970, the astronauts touched down in the Pacific Ocean near the Samoan islands.