Apollo 13 Movie Physics Essay

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Apollo 13 Essay
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to fly in space or work on the crew at NASA that helps the astronauts get home safely? These two jobs both use many of the laws of physics. In fact, almost everything they do involves physics. Apollo 13 is a movie that epitomizes what those jobs are like and how much physics is required. The three main laws of physics in the movie were Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, Newton’s First Law, and Newton’s Third Law.

One main law in Apollo 13 was Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation, defined as F=Gm1m2r2, where G=6.67×10-11. The first main scene in which this law was needed was when NASA decided that it would be best for the crew to take a free-return trajectory back to Earth. Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was needed to figure out the net force and its direction on the Apollo 13 spacecraft as it followed its path. NASA made sure that Apollo 13 would make it back to Earth and not be lost in space. Another scene in which Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation was needed was when the Apollo 13 crew needed to execute a burn. This law helped them calculate the forces acting on them by other planetary objects, and therefore how much force their burn needed to apply. By simply adding together force vectors NASA could predict the exact location at any time of the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The third scene in which this law was required was when Jim Lovell stated that they “just put Sir Isaac Newton in the driver’s seat” after NASA had ordered them to power down both the LEM and the Command Module. What Jim Lovell was stating was that since now they couldn’t do anything to control the ship the only thing guiding them to Earth were Newton’s laws, especially Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation. If Newton’s laws were to fail then the Apollo 13 crew would have had no chance of getting home. To sum it up, three scenes in Apollo 13 that used or showed Newton’s Law of Universal Gravitation were when Jim...
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