Unlike the recently, successfully concluded Apollo 17 mission, #13 (unlucky?) -- Cooper never speculates) almost ended in tragedy and it did fail in that the landing was not accomplished. This reconstruct of 13, which previously appeared in the New Yorker magazine in slightly altered form, follows the sweaty-palmed journey into space from the first smooth 55 hours to the explosion that aborted the trip, to NASA's growing apprehensions that the astronauts would end ""belly up,"" to the quarter-million-mile hurtle back to earth which featured human survival instricts over scientific wizardry -- the operative concept in this techothriller -- such as living through the freezing cold in the LM, the onsetting dehydration, the acceleratingly ""terse"" communications with earth, the usually simple but now intricate MCC7 burn. . . . Cooper (author of two other moon-exploration books) cuts through the acronymic abstruseness -- EECOM, GNC, TELMU -- to put the whole adventure into a perspective which nudges the mind into other odysseys: 13 was now ""in every bit as understandable and distressing a predicament as any seamen aboard a leaky vessel in danger of foundering."" 2001 adventures, cosmic and true.