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HANKS, BACON AND HOWARD LAUNCH INTO STARRY ROLES

SHARE HANKS, BACON AND HOWARD LAUNCH INTO STARRY ROLES

Tom Hanks, Kevin Bacon and Ron Howard all but blasted off into space.

Hanks took the controls, Bacon was pilot and Howard was flight director for a simulated shuttle mission at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., as they researched roles for an upcoming movie about the Apollo 13 mission in 1970.Howard will direct the film based on the book "Lost Moon," by Apollo 13 commander James Lovell Jr. and Jeff Klugger, which is scheduled for publication this fall.

The actors, who arrived Sunday and left Tuesday, immersed themselves in the space program of the 1960s and '70s.

"They've been super laid back, but serious about their mission here - to learn about NASA and the way a space mission operates," center spokeswoman Marianne Higgins said.