The phrase "Houston, we've had a problem" was said by Jim Lovell after the oxygen tank blew up during Apollo 13, and in the movie Tom Hanks playing Jim Lovell said "Houston, we have a problem". However, given the many incidents in NASA spaceflights, isn't it likely that such phrases were said more often by American crews?

Other than during Apollo 13, "Houston, we have a problem" or similar could have been said for example by the following crews:

  • Gus Grissom after the Liberty Bell's splashdown (in this case "I have a problem")
  • Gemini 6A during a failed launch attempt
  • Gemini 8 after it started to spin
  • Apollo 1 during the fatal launch rehearsal test
  • Apollo 11 when Buzz Aldrin accidentally damaged a circuit braker for lunar launch
  • Apollo 12 after being struck by lightning during ascent
  • the Apollo-Soyuz Apollo crew during landing
  • STS-51-F during their abort to orbit
  • STS-51 during a satellite release device detonation
  • STS-83 when a fuel cell failed
  • STS-107 during the fatal reentry
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    $\begingroup$ Never again seriously, often as a joke. No way to prove it though. Frankly people at JSC are kind of sick of the phrase due to its overuse in the media. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27 at 13:42
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    $\begingroup$ I worked as an ISS flight controller for three years, never once did I hear any variation of "Houston, we have a problem" on the loops. And I was on console for the MS-10 launch abort, the August 2018 atmospheric leak, and many, many more payload anomalies. The crew tends to be much more succinct and actually state what's wrong instead of wasting time with a nondescript "problem." $\endgroup$
    – Doresoom
    Commented Feb 27 at 14:17
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    $\begingroup$ @OldManJohn Everyone listens intently whenever loop traffic on space to ground keys up, no need for the crew to use a special code word for immediate attention. If there's something wrong in telemetry that's an absolute emergency, flight controllers use "break, break" at the start of their message to get everyone to stop talking on the loop and listen. I only used that once in my career when crew was about to demate a vacuum hose QD that didn't have the outboard vent valve closed. $\endgroup$
    – Doresoom
    Commented Feb 27 at 14:32
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    $\begingroup$ Even in sims when we were throwing the book at them they never said it except as an ironic joke. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27 at 14:57
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    $\begingroup$ @OldManJohn In air traffic control, the main purpose of a distress call like mayday (emergency) or panpan (urgent but not life threatening) is to clear the frequency. It means "everybody shut up, I need to talk without interference", because there are normally dozens of aircraft doing stuff at any given time and a constant stream of radio calls sharing the same frequency. In space, we generally only have one mission on a given frequency, so there's not really anyone else around that needs to be silenced. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 27 at 18:06


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