50 years ago: No immunity

The Apollo 13 crew (L to R) : Mission Commander Jim Lovell, Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly and Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise



A virus

An exposure.

Repeated blood tests

And the test show no immunity.

It sounds like current news, but it was 50 years ago.

            On the previous Sunday, April 5, Charlie Duke, backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 13, due for launch in six days, came down with the German measles, which he’d caught from a friend’s two-year-old son.  The prime crew of Jim Lovell, Thomas “Ken” Mattingly, and Fred Haise had been exposed.  Lovell, who’d had the disease, was immune.  Initial blood tests questioned the immunity of Mattingly and Haise. Further tests show Haise is immune. Not so with Mattingly.  He might come down with the measles on the way to the moon.Space

          Fifty years ago today, NASA doctors rule Mattingly out.  If the flight is to launch on time on the 11th, backup Command Module Pilot Jack Swigert needs to show proficiency in flying the command ship.  He begins two days of intense simulations to come up to speed.  If he can’t hack it, the flight will have to be delayed until May 9, at a cost of $800,000.

All eyes, especially those of Jim Lovell, on Jack Swigert.

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