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Hollywood, we have a problem! Some Apollo 13 movie quotes were fiction not fact

Flight director Gene Kranz never said ‘failure is not an option’ but has revealed what he really told his team.

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Gene Kranz, Apollo-era flight director, gave a somewhat different pep talk to the one in the movie (Michael Wyke/AP)

Gene Kranz, Apollo-era flight director, gave a somewhat different pep talk to the one in the movie (Michael Wyke/AP)

Gene Kranz, Apollo-era flight director, gave a somewhat different pep talk to the one in the movie (Michael Wyke/AP)

Apollo 13′s best known quotes originated not in space or Mission Control, but in Hollywood.

Their moon-bound spacecraft wrecked by an oxygen tank explosion on April 13 1970, the astronauts urgently radioed: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

Screenwriters for the 1995 film Apollo 13 wanted to improve it.

Thus was born: “Houston, we have a problem.”

I have never lost an American in space, sure as hell aren’t going to lose one now. This crew is coming home. You got to believe it. Your team must believe it. And we must make it happenWhat Gene Kranz actually said

Even more artistic license was taken with Nasa flight director Gene Kranz’s mobilising speech to his team in Houston.

Mr Kranz never declared: “Failure is not an option.”

Asked what he actually told flight controllers, Mr Kranz rattled it off without a moment’s hesitation a half-century later.

“I have never lost an American in space, sure as hell aren’t going to lose one now.

“This crew is coming home. You got to believe it.

“Your team must believe it. And we must make it happen.”

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Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell gather for a photo on the day before launch (Nasa/AP)

Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell gather for a photo on the day before launch (Nasa/AP)

AP/PA Images

Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell gather for a photo on the day before launch (Nasa/AP)

Mr Kranz said the filmmakers came up with: “Failure is not an option.”

He does not regret not saying it, saying: “No — I’m satisfied with what I said.”

Mr Kranz constantly finds himself setting the record straight, “in fact, every time I speak”.

“I try not to plagiarise,” he said with a laugh.

He did borrow the phrase for the title of his 2000 autobiography.

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Jim Lovell is winched from the sea after the successful splashdown (AP)

Jim Lovell is winched from the sea after the successful splashdown (AP)

AP/PA Images

Jim Lovell is winched from the sea after the successful splashdown (AP)

Director Ron Howard’s film starring Ed Harris as Mr Kranz and Tom Hanks as mission commander Jim Lovell was based on Lovell’s 1994 autobiography, Lost Moon.

Actors Bill Paxton and Kevin Bacon portrayed Apollo 13 astronauts Fred Haise and Jack Swigert.

PA