Apollo 13 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest islands.
On this day in 1970, Apollo 13 managed to return to Earth despite severe problems during the flight. The spacecraft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, hundreds of miles from the nearest islands, roughly between the Cook Islands and Tonga. However American helicopter carrier USS Iwo Jima was in the vicinity (located just 6.5 kilometers away). The ship picked up the American astronauts and the remains of the spacecraft.
All three crew members of Apollo 13 – James Lovell (commander), John Swigert (Command Module pilot) and Fred Haise (Lunar Module pilot) – were in good condition, except for Haise who had a serious urinary tract infection. The reason for this was insufficient fluid intake. Namely, during the flight through space the astronauts were told not to eject urine from the module because it could alter the trajectory of the spacecraft. The astronauts took that literally and stored all the urine in the aircraft until the end of flight. Actually, it was a misunderstanding, because such action was probably not necessary.
The moments of module re-entry through the Earth’s atmosphere are particularly tense. Specifically, there are about four minutes of communications blackout caused by the ionization of the air around the Command Module. With Apollo 13, the blackout lasted six minutes, more specifically, about 87 seconds longer than usual, so that the tension was heightened.