13 Minutes to the Moon, the BBC’s hit podcast focusing on some of the most famous space program missions in history, has returned for a second series.
Whereas the first series delved into the Apollo 11 moon landings, this time round, presenter Kevin Fong talks us through the infamous Apollo 13 mission – which was famously aborted after a catastrophic system crash.
Here’s everything you need to know about the series…
How can I listen to 13 Minutes to the Moon?
The first episode of series 2 was made available on BBC Sounds on Monday 9th March 2020, with the subsequent five episodes released on a weekly basis thereafter, while it is also available on all the major podcast platforms including Apple Podcasts, iTunes, Spotify and Luminary.
The series will also air on BBC World Service radio from 11th March in weekly instalments.
Who is presents 13 Minute to the Moon?
Award winning broadcaster and author Kevin Fong hosts the series.
Fong’s previous presenting credits include TV shows such as Space Shuttle: The Final Mission, Astronauts: Do You Have What it Takes, several Horizon programmes for the BBC and Channel 4’s Extreme A&E.
His radio documentaries include Game Changer: Fortnite on 4 and Trauma Medicine: The Fight for Life on BBC Radio 4.
What is 13 Minutes to the Moon about?
The second series tells the story of the near-disastrous 1970 Apollo 13 mission, which took place just a few months after NASA had successfully put a man on the moon, but had to be aborted following an unexpected explosion.
Speaking to Apollo 13 mission’s commander, Jim Lovell and his family, astronaut Fred Haise, and key figures from NASA’s mission control in Houston, Kevin Fong chronicles how the team were able to prevent disaster.
Speaking exclusively to RadioTimes.com, Fong said: “In many ways its very different from the landing on the moon, which is a compressed 13 minutes of drama onto the surface.
“Apollo 13 is actually this sort of gut-wrenching headlong dive into this catastrophe and a crew who had this catastrophic explosion aboard their mothership, their command module, and this crippled the space craft.
“They lose all their oxygen and then, and because they lose oxygen they also lose power… so they’ve lost everything, they’ve lost their own oxygen to breathe but also they’ve lost the life-blood of the spacecraft, the electrical life-blood of the space-craft itself.
“So no-one is really anticipating a failure on this scale and everyone is squabbling to work out what’s gone on.
“So tonally it’s different from the first season because this is a sort of drawn-out drama where for the best part of 87 hours they are fighting over and over again for survival and that’s the thing that really struck me about the story, it’s sort of this live today, die tomorrow type structure where they manage to keep themselves alive in the wake of the explosion.”
Which crew members are interviewed in 13 Minutes to the Moon?
Fong speaks to the main players at the heart of the mission, including mission commander Jim Lovell, astronaut Fred Haise and flight director Glynn Lunney.
The host described it as “genuinely a labour of love” to have interviewed the podcast’s subjects. He said: “50 years on, these people are now in their 80s – some of them in their 90s – and you got this real sense of gravitas about the interviews because it’s the last chance to see, last chance to tell.
“That’s the sense you got and you got I think, a sense of people reflecting quite deeply on these events and being really frank and open.”
He added: “To be sat in a room with Jim Lovell, staring him in the face as he says what it was like in the wake of the explosion… for him to turn around and say, ‘Yeah I had a good idea I might not survive it’… that was really quite a thing.”
He said that a standout quote from the series comes from his interview with flight-director Glynn Lunney – who was only 33 at the time of the mission.
“I talked to him about whether or not he thought that this was a crew who may not survive,” Fong explains. “And he said yeah, but if you think about what it’s going to be like if the crew dies you’re only going to be more likely to make that happen. So you don’t allow yourself to ruminate on that, you just keep going.”