Houston, we have a problem

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Houston, we have a problem
Origin/etymologyApollo 13 mission
Original form"Uh, Houston, we've had a problem"
Coined byJack Swigert

"Houston, we have a problem" is a popular but erroneous quotation from the radio communications between the Apollo 13 astronaut John ("Jack") Swigert and the NASA Mission Control Center ("Houston") during the Apollo 13 spaceflight,[1] as the astronauts communicated their discovery of the explosion that crippled their spacecraft.

The words actually spoken, initially by Jack Swigert, were "Okay, Houston, we've had a problem here" (emphasis added). After being prompted to repeat the transmission by CAPCOM Jack R. Lousma, Jim Lovell responded, "Uh, Houston, we've had a problem."

Since then, the phrase has become popular,[2] being used to account, informally, the emergence of an unforeseen problem.[3]

The message[edit]

The official NASA "Technical Air-to-ground Voice Transcription"[4] has the following dialog listed:

02 07 55 19 Haise: Okay, Houston (interrupted by Lovell)

02 07 55 20 Lovell: I believe we've had a problem here. (interrupting Haise)

02 07 55 28 Lousma: This is Houston. Say again, please.

02 07 55 35 Lovell: Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a main B bus undervolt.

Contrary to the printed text, the transcription includes a handwritten note in the margin that states, "Swigert reported trouble," and attributes the first transmission about a problem to Swigert, and the second to Lovell.[5] The above NASA transcription also differs from Jim Lovell's own recollections that he provided in Chapter 13 of Apollo Expeditions to the Moon (1975), where he writes, "Jack Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang, and said, "Houston, we've had a problem here." I came on and told the ground that it was a main B bus undervolt. The time was 2108 hours on April 13."[6].


  1. ^ "Houston, We've Had a Problem". Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  2. ^ "¿Por qué la frase: Houston, tenemos un problema?" [Why the phrase: Houston, we have a problem?]. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  3. ^ ""Houston, tenemos un problema" – Jack Swigert" ["Houston, we have a problem" – Jack Swigert] (in Spanish). Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  4. ^ "Apollo 13 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription" (PDF). Retrieved November 7, 2018.
  5. ^ "Apollo 13 Technical Air-to-Ground Voice Transcription" (PDF). p. 160. Retrieved July 17, 2019.
  6. ^ James A. Lovell. "Apollo Expeditions to the Moon: Chapter 13". Retrieved November 7, 2018.


External links[edit]