This is the incredible story of three NASA astronauts who were left stranded 200,000 miles from Earth after their spacecraft malfunctioned, but incredibly made it back home alive.

The Apollo 13 was NASA’s third time trying to land on the moon which tool place on April 11 1970.

The mission was meant to send Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise into space, but things didn’t work out when they were four fifths of the way to their destination.

The crew of NASA's Apollo 13 ( Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

The crew of NASA’s Apollo 13 ( Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

It was three days into the journey when the team were situated in the command module.

Everything initially seemed to be going fine until an explosion in the cylindrical craft occurred.

The unexpected blast was caused by heat-damaged wires next to the tanks, causing them to ignite and explode.

Lovell told the History This Week podcast: “I…looked down at Jack Swigert in the command module and his eyes were as wide as saucers.

“And I could see that…this was the start of a long, treacherous journey home.”

At 200,000 miles from Earth, this left the three astronauts stranded with only 15 minutes of power and oxygen left to survive on.

That’s when Lovell radioed the control centre to tell them about the major issue they were facing.

The crew were on a path which would take them past Earth. YouTube/ NASA

The crew were on a path which would take them past Earth. YouTube/ NASA

He said: “OK, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

While NASA tried to figure out what had happened, their oxygen could be seen leaking from the craft and time was running out.

Thanks to quick thinking from those on board, they were able to move themselves into the lunar module for safety, relying on little bits of water to last them until they could arrive home.

Lovell told History: “They worked out a system and then they relayed it up to us word by word.

“Hose. Duct tape and an old sock and my gosh, time was the one thing that kept us from dying.”

Deciding to leave the guidance computer on, the three men drifted back to Earth over three days in a cold, damp module.

Thankfully, when they re-entered the atmosphere, they were able to pull their parachutes and land in the South Pacific to be rescued.

The mission was considered a successful failure. YouTube/NASA

The mission was considered a successful failure. YouTube/NASA

NASA ended up calling Apollo 13 a ‘successful failure’ – having learnt valuable lessons from the disastrous mission, and saved three men’s lives.

They wrote: “Despite great hardship caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, and a shortage of potable water, the crew returned to Earth.”

Going forwards, Apollo 14 had an additional battery and a reserve oxygen tank to prevent any similar catastrophes from happening again.

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