The phrase Houston, we have a problem is self-explanatory. It means that an unexpected issue has popped up.
In other words, an unforeseen problem has appeared.
Similar/Related: we have an issue on our hands, we’ve got a problem
The Origin of ‘Houston, We Have a Problem’
When some people hear the phrase “Houston, we have a problem,” they might think of the 1995 movie Apollo 13 starring Tom Hanks and Kevin Bacon. However, this expression actually stems from the events that the movie is based on. So let’s take a closer look at those events to see what we can learn about the phrase’s origin.
The Apollo Program
In the year 1961, the Apollo program was started by NASA. One of the goals of this program was to land humans on the moon and then have them return to earth. In 1969, this goal was accomplished with the Apollo 11 mission. A famous phrase that came from this mission was: “One small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” These words were spoken by the American astronaut, Neil Armstrong, when he set foot on the moon.
A year later, in 1970, there was Apollo 13. This mission was supposed to be the third time that humans set foot on the moon. However, something went wrong and it was aborted. What happened?
In short, the spacecraft being used had an oxygen tank fail a couple of days into the mission. When this issue was detected by the crew members, it was astronaut Jack Swigert who reported the incident to NASA’s Mission Control Center by saying, “Okay, Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” Mission Control then asked him to repeat the message. This is when mission commander, Jim Lovell, said: “Uh, Houston, we’ve had a problem.” These events are where this famous phrase originated.
– It’s Not Rocket Science
If someone tells you that “it’s not exactly rocket science,” what do they mean? Find out, plus see where this idiom comes from.