Houston, we’ve had a problem: the damaged Apollo 13 Service Module after the oxygen tank explosion

Space Mission
Apollo 13, 11-17 April 1970


Photo Description
Vintage NASA “Red Number” chromogenic color photograph, 10 by 8 inches, “A Kodak Paper” watermark to verso. NASA image ID “NASA AS13-58-8464” printed in upper left margin in red

“Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
Apollo 13 became the most carefully watched mission of the program. For a tense four days, no one knew if the crew would make it back safely.
This photograph was exposed through the 250mm telephoto lens after jettison of the Service Module prior to Earth reentry showing the damage which happened to the Module at about T+055:55:20 after launch as it was docked to the spacecraft on the way to the Moon already 178,000 nautical miles from home.

“I thought, when I saw that oxygen system leaking down, I figured we’d lost them. I really did. I didn’t think we’d make it.”
—John Young, Apollo 13 backup crew member

James Lovell and Fred Haise had just entered the LM Aquarius to check it over and sent a TV transmission to Earth when the crew heard a loud explosion. The Service Module had been due to take them back to Earth but this view from the lifeboat LM Aquarius reveals that an entire panel had been blown away by the explosion of an oxygen tank.

From the mission transcript just after the explosion of the damaged Service Module on the way to the Moon:
055:55:19 Swigert: Okay, Houston…
055:55:19 Lovell: …Houston…
055:55:20 Swigert: I believe we’ve had a problem here. [Pause.]
055:55:28 Lousma (Mission Control): This is Houston. Say again, please.
055:55:35 Lovell: Houston, we’ve had a problem. We’ve had a Main B Bus Undervolt.
055:55:42 Lousma: Roger. Main B Undervolt. [Long pause.]
055:55:58 Lousma: Okay, stand by, 13. We’re looking at it.
055:56:10 Haise: Okay. Right now, Houston, the voltage is – is looking good. And we had a pretty large bang associated with the Caution and Warning there. And as I recall, Main B was the one that had had an amp spike on it once before. […]
056:09:07 Lovell: It looks to me, looking out the hatch, that we are venting something. We are venting something out into the – into space.
056:09:22 Lousma (Mission Control): Roger. We copy your venting.
056:09:29 Lovell: It’s a gas of some sort.