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Space History Photo: Astronaut John Swigert with "Mailbox"

space history, nasa, apollo 13
Astronaut John Swigert holds the rigged arrangement used to purge carbon dioxide from the Lunar Module during the Apollo 13 mission in April of 1970. (Image credit: NASA.)

In this historical photo from the U.S. space agency, Astronaut John L. Swigert, Jr., Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot, holds the "mailbox" a jerry-rigged arrangement which the Apollo 13 astronauts built to use the Command Module lithium hydroxide canisters to purge carbon dioxide from the Lunar Module in April of 1970.

Lithium hydroxide is used to scrub CO2 from the spacecraft atmosphere. Since there was a limited amount of lithium hydroxide in the Lunar Module, this arrangement was rigged up using the canisters from the Command Module. The "mailbox" was designed and tested on the ground at the Manned Spacecraft Center before it was suggested to the problem-plagued Apollo 13 crewmen.

Because of the explosion of an oxygen tank in the Service Module, the three astronauts had to use the Lunar Module as a "lifeboat."

Each weekday, SPACE.com looks back at the history of spaceflight through photos (archive).

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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is the U.S. government agency in charge of the civilian space program as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Founded in 1958, NASA is a civilian space agency aimed at exploring the universe with space telescopes,  satellites, robotic spacecraft, astronauts and more. The space agency has 10 major centers based across the U.S. and launches robotic and crewed missions from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral Florida. It's astronaut corps is based at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. To follow NASA's latest mission, follow the space agency on Twitter or any other social channel, of visit: nasa.gov