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10 great escapes

Apollo 13 splashdown

Photo: NASA

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Apollo 13

Dramatized in the 1995 Tom Hanks movie, this lunar mission found astronauts Jim Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert stranded in space during a moon mission in the spring of 1970. An explosion caused a loss of electricity to the command module of the spacecraft, forcing the astronauts to use the lunar module as a floating "lifeboat." (The damage gave birth to the pop-culture phrase: "Houston, we have a problem.")

The drama captivated the nation as reports came back to Earth that the lifeboat, built for two men with only two days' worth of air, would now have to be the home of three men for four days. With NASA engineers providing out-of-the-box ideas, the astronauts were able to jury-rig a solution using a plastic bags, cardboard, tape, and an old sock. This MacGyver-like solution enabled the astronauts — cold, tired, and hungry — to return safely back home. The mission was dubbed a "successful failure."