All of the potential occurrences throughout the Apollo Game are based on historical events that occurred during the Apollo program. While researching documents during game development, we read the mission reports for both crewed and uncrewed flights for Apollo, Skylab, and Apollo-Soyuz Test Program (ASTP) missions, since all used Saturn rockets, Apollo spacecraft, and associated hardware. These reports shed light on many different technical issues the Astronauts and Mission Control faced while the Apollo Missions were being flown.
These events are listed here as a brief summary and not intended to highlight the problems that occurred, but to highlight how they were successfully overcome to the result of 6 successful lunar landings and 1 successful circumlunar abort. It is also not intended as a comprehensive discussion of each event, but several links to NASA websites containing additional details is provided at the bottom of this post.
Apollo 6 - Uncrewed Test Flight suffered severe Pogo oscillations during launch, leading to damage that shut down 2 of the 5 engines on the S-II Stage. Once reaching orbit, the S-IVB failed to restart as it would have to for a Lunar Mission for Trans Luner Injection. Similar but less severe Pogo oscillations occurred on later flights, to include Apollo 13.
Apollo 8 - Mission Commander (CDR) fell ill during the translunar coast to the Moon, but he recovered in less than a day.
Apollo 9 - Lunar Module Pilot (LMP) suffered from severe motion sickness after the launch, which almost prevented required test objectives for the mission from being met.
Apollo 10 - During the Lunar Module (LM) test flight near the Moon, an improper switch setting caused the LM to spin erratically and nearly crash onto the Moon.
Apollo 11 - Lunar Module ran very low on fuel while making the first lunar landing. It also suffered numerous computer alarms and navigational problems which led to it drifting off course.
Apollo 12 - The Saturn V rocket was struck by lightning twice shortly after liftoff, causing the Command Module electrical system to be knocked offline. During splashdown after the mission, the LMP was struck in the head and knocked unconscious by a camera in the CM. In his own words he was lucky that he wasn't killed.
Apollo 13 - O2 tank exploded during Translunar coast, requiring a circumlunar abort with the crew using the Lunar Module for life support and propulsion, along with many other associated technical issues to help the crew survive and return to Earth.
Apollo 14 - CSM had difficulty achieving hard dock with LM during transposition and docking, but after troubleshooting it was able to hard dock and extract the LM. While in Lunar Orbit, the LM Abort switch activated on its own, requiring the computer to be reprogramed with consultation with Houston - without a fix, the LM may have automatically aborted the landing attempt. During Powered Decent, the LM Landing Radar failed to activate until the power was cycled; if it wasn't working before reaching 10,000 feet, the Apollo Mission rules dictated an abort to the landing attempt.
Apollo 15 - Landed in a small crater, with the LM decent engine bell contacting the surface. CSM and LM had minor docking and pressurization issues while in Lunar Orbit. LMP experienced irregular heart rhythms on the Moon which were monitored by Mission Control. During recovery, 1 of the 3 parachutes collapsed, resulting in a hard but successful water landing.
Apollo 16 - In Lunar Orbit, the CSM SPS Engine suffered major steering issues which by mission rules could have require the LM to abort the landing before PDI and be utilized as a backup means to return to Earth. However, after assessment, the landing was accomplished and alternative means of steering the SPS engine as utilized. The stay on the Lunar surface was cut short 1-day in order to allow for time to troubleshoot the SPS system after rendezvous and docking with the LM.
Skylab 1 - During the uncrewed launch of the Skylab space station on a Saturn V rocket, severe vibrations ripped off a meteoroid shield and solar panel, severely damaging the power and cooling systems. This threatened the habitability of the station but the Skylab 2 mission was to fix these problems.
Skylab 2 – CSM experienced multiple failures to dock with the Skylab space station, requiring the crew to don pressure suits and disassemble the docking probe, after which docking was accomplished.
Skylab 3 – CSM experienced several thruster quad failures (which control the CSM orientation for flight and re-entry). For a brief time, a rescue mission with a specially configured CSM was considered, which would have launched with 2 astronauts to bring the 3 astronauts on Skylab, for a total of 5 on re-entry. Eventually it was determined that the remaining 2 working thruster quads were sufficient for re-entry maneuvering and the rescue mission was cancelled.
ASTP - During recovery, toxic fumes from thruster firing entered the CM, resulting in two astronauts becoming incapacitated for a short time before landing. Mission CDR donned his emergency O2 mask and put masks on the other crew-members. All crew members had to be treated for chemical pneumonia after the mission.
Link to more information on Apollo Flights
CDR - Apollo Mission Commander
CMP - Command Module Pilot
LMP - Lunar Module Pilot
CSM - Command and Service Module
CM - Command Module
SM - Service Module
LM - Lunar Module
SPS - Service Propulsion System (Main Engine of the CSM, located on the SM)