1970-04-11 USA Apollo 13

Apollo 13 was the third lunar landing mission in the American Apollo space program. The flight was commanded by James A. Lovell with John L. "Jack" Swigert as Command Module Pilot and Fred W. Haise as Lunar Module Pilot.

Apollo 13 crew-signed "Type 1" Insurance Cover directly from the personal collection of Mission Commander James Lovell, with signed letter of certification. This cover features a color cachet of the mission insignia at left with "NASA Manned Spacecraft Center Stamp Club" printed above, and "Official Commemorative Cover" below. Signed by the original crew, James Lovell, Ken Mattingly and Fred Haise, machine cancelled at Kennedy Space Center om April 11, 1970 (launch date). Signed "Letter of Certification" from Lovell on his company letterhead. At the last minute, Ken Mattingly was pulled from the mission because of his exposure to German measles. - Heritage Auctions.
Apollo 13 official NASA cachet on cover with a Kennedy Space Center hand cancel.
On April 13, 1970, while Apollo 13 on the route to the moon, one of the cryogenic oxygen tanks exploded in the service module and crippled the spacecraft. The astronauts had no choice but to retreat into the lunar module as a lifeboat. The moon landing was aborted and returning the crew safely to earth was the top priority. To make matters worse, the main antenna of the spacecraft was damaged, the crew could only communicate with Houston through a small antenna on the lunar module.

Apollo 13 commemorative cover from The Manned Spaceflight Cover Society, hand cancelled at Houston, Texas on April 13, 1970, with "EXPLOSION" text in black below the stamp.
Apollo 13 commemorative cover from NASA Manned Spacecraft Center Stamp Club with "MISSION ABORTED" text in red added below the stamp. Signed by James Lovell, Ken Mattingly, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert. Hand cancelled Houston TX April 14, 1970. It is rare to find covers signed by both Mattingly and Swigert. - RegencyStamps
Cover signed by Eugene Kranz, who directed the Mission Control team to save the Apollo 13 crew. Cancelled at Cape Canaveral on Apr 14, 1970.
Parkes radio telescope was called in to assist the Apollo 13 emergency. The staff at Parkes prepared the telescope for spacecraft reception in less than six hours. While Parkes monitored the weak radio signals from Apollo 13, the ground control at Houston worked on the precise trajectory to bring the crippled spacecraft home. Above cover with a stamped Apollo 13 CSIRO ANRAO Parkes cachet, cancelled at Parkes on April 16, 1970.
Despite multiple issues caused by limited power, loss of cabin heat, shortage of potable water, and the critical need to jury-rig the carbon dioxide removal system, Apollo 13 returned safely to Earth on April 17, 1970. The lunar module was attached to the spacecraft to preserve the maximum electrical power in the command module for reentry. The reentry involved an unusual step to undock the lunar module, in addition to the separation from the damaged service module.
The crew splashed down 4 miles from the recovery ship USS Iwo Jima. Above USS Iwo Jima ship's postcard with Beck rubber stamped cachet, hand cancelled on April 17, 1970 and signed by commanding officer Captain Leland Erwin Kirkemo.
Photo: The Apollo 13 crew aboard the recovery ship, USS Iwo Jima, on April 17, 1970.
USS Iwo Jima recovery ship cover with Beck rubber stamped cachet, signed by the Apollo 13 crew, Jack Swigert, James Lovell, Fred Haise, commander of the Pacific-based Task Force 130 Rear Adm. Donald C. Davis, commanding officer Captain Leland Erwin Kirkemo and the helo pilot Charles B. Smiley. "The Joseph Lee Wicks Space Collection". - RRAuction
Photo: "A HAPPY SCENE takes place Friday at Mission Control, Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, as a picture of Apollo 13 flight commander James A. Lovell is flashed on a television screen after Lovell and the other two crew members were safely aboard the USS Iwo Jima. Donald K. Slayton, director of flight crew operations, leans across a console to shake hands with one of the controllers, while another member of the team puffs on a cigar. AP Wirephoto, April 17, 1970."
USS Iwo Jima hand cancel variation with ship name appears on the top of the postmark.
A rare Apollo 13 USS Iwo Jima Beck CREW Cover, only 25 covers without the "B" number printed exist. This hand cancel is a variation with a non-skewed date.
After the recovery, the Apollo 13 crew headed to American Samoa for a brief stop before they flew to Hawaii. Governor John M. Haydon of American Samoa inscribed a welcome message and autographed on this Beck printed cachet cover B838. This hand cancel is a variation with a skewed date.
Photo: Apollo 13 crew at a ritual ceremony (performed by Samoan natives) on April 18, 1970, before they departed for Honolulu.
USS Iwo Jima recovery ship cover with a Ekas rubber stamped cachet.
Apollo 13 Artopages cover with a splashdown and recovery printed cachet, available on the USS Iwo Jima only. Hand cancelled on April 17, 1970, signed by helo pilot Charles B. Smiley, co-pilot D. G. McCarthy and crewman Ralph G. Slider. The cover includes an insert card, signed by the supply officer, Eugene V. Rinehart.
While the recovery date, April 17, 1970, is commonly seen on Apollo 13 Artopages covers, the above cover has an unusual date cancelled on April 10, 1970, a day before the actual launch of Apollo 13.
Apollo 13 Navy Recovery Ship cover by Artopages, postmarked April 17, 1970 on USS Iwo Jima.
Photo: "PLANNING DIRECTOR for the National Aeronautics & Space Administration, Wernher von Braun (right) attends a debriefing of the Apollo 13 spaceflight crew at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Tex., Monday. Donald K. Slayton, director of flight crew operations, talks with von Braun as the crew (from left) James A. Lovell Jr., John L. Swigert Jr. and Fred W. Haise Jr. listen. AP Wirephoto, April 20, 1970."