Houston, we have a problem

By | March 1, 2010

This phrase became familiar to us from the days of “Star Trek” series which were once broadcast on the Doordarshan, the official channel of India. I remembered this phrase but never knew the origin of this. All was clear was that whenever there was a problem with the spacecraft, this phrase was heard.

This phrase is a misrepresentation of the message astronaut Swigert of Apollo 13 mission conveyed to Houston. Original, the dialogues are as follows:

Swigert: ‘Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.’
Duke: ‘This is Houston. Say again please.’
Lovell: ‘Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a main B bus undervolt.’

So he said that there was a serious problem but it had been solved already when it was conveyed to Houston. Nowadays, the phrase is used humorously to report any kind of problem.

The mission launched on April 11, 1970, met with a electrical fault causing an explosion in oxygen tanks. With great difficulties, using the command module as lifeboat, the crew returned to earth on April 17, 1970. It was termed as successful failure.

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