EDWARDSVILLE, IL (KTVI) - The scratchy audio emanates from a NASA website on computer speakers.
“Okay, Houston, we have a problem here.”
“This is Houston say again please.”
“Houston we've had a problem.”
The last statement was made by Captain Jim Lovell, an astronaut on board Apollo 13 in April of 1970 when an explosion on board threatened the life of the space program and the safe return of those astronauts.
“What we did was we had to try to figure out what happened,” said Lovell. “When the explosion first occurred, our first thought was perhaps a meteor had hit the lunar module. And we tried to close the tunnel between the two vehicles, much like a submarine crew does if there's a leak some place.”
Lovell is here as part of the Illinois State Academy of Science Annual Conference.
The rest of the Apollo 13 story is as famous as his phrase. Lovell and the crew modified the lunar module, which allowed them to safely return to earth.
Now, 46 years later, this pioneer of space travel discusses space present and space future.
“The government put $1.2 billion into Space-X to get them started,” he said. “And so they are essentially supporting commercial. And they're doing the same thing with Boeing and a couple others.”
A reporter asked Lovell if the topic of extra-terrestrial life comes up on the speaking circuit.
“We'd be all naive to think we're the only intelligent life in the universe,” he said. “Not too far to be too hot, or out too far to be too cold, but just at the right thing to have the star’s energy be absorbed by that planet, that fosters life. That's exactly what happened here.”
It’s a comment Lovell makes spoken as one of handful of people who have seen space… close-up.