I had my own problem at Houston mission control

“MR Harris, you have a problem,” the caller informed me.

My alarm receiving centre had phoned me and imparted the worrying news that my home fire alarm had activated.

I was almost 5,000 miles away, and no-one was remotely near my home.

The last time similar words were uttered at that location had been 53 years earlier by one Jack Swigert, command module pilot, as Apollo 13 suffered an explosion en route to the moon.

I’m at Mission Control in Houston, Texas, and it looks exactly as it did on April 14, 1970, although Swigert’s actual announcement was: “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here” — not as immortalised in the 1995 film, Apollo 13.

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