|Origin/etymology||Apollo 13 (mission)|
|Original form||"Okay, Houston...we've had a problem here"|
|Coined by||Jack Swigert|
"Houston, we have a problem" is a popular but erroneous quotation from the radio communications between the Apollo 13 astronaut Jack Swigert and the NASA Mission Control Center ("Houston") during the Apollo 13 spaceflight in 1970, 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". After being prompted to repeat the transmission by CAPCOM Jack R. Lousma, Jim Lovell responded, "Ah, Houston, we've had a problem."
Since then, the erroneous phrase "Houston, we have a problem" has become popular, being used to account, informally, the emergence of an unforeseen problem, often with a sense of ironic understatement.
The Apollo 13 Flight Journal has the following dialogue listed between the astronauts and Mission Control:
055:55:19 Swigert: Okay, Houston...
055:55:19 Lovell: ...Houston...
055:55:20 Swigert: ...we've had a problem here.
055:55:28 Lousma: This is Houston. Say again, please.
055:55:35 Lovell: Ah, Houston, we've had a problem. We've had a Main B Bus Undervolt.
In Chapter 13 of Apollo Expeditions to the Moon (1975), Jim Lovell recalls the event: "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 21:08 hours on April 13."
In the 1995 film Apollo 13, the actual quote was shortened to "Houston, we have a problem". Screenwriter William Broyles Jr. made the change, stating that the verb tense actually used "wasn't as dramatic". Broyles and American University linguist Naomi S. Baron said the actual line spoken would not work well in a suspense movie. The quote ranked at No. 50 on AFI's 100 Greatest Movie Quotes in June 2005.
UK Artist, Emeka, in 2021, released a song titled "Houston We Have A Problem". The song is aptly named Houston We Have A Problem as Emeka uses the phrase to discuss and explore the multiple troublesome relationships he has in his life, and his desire to live a life larger than the one he currently lives.
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