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Profile of Jim Lovell
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|Also Know As:
|Date of Birth:
||25th March 1928
|Place of Birth:
||Cleveland, Ohio, USA
James A. Lovell, Jr., Captain, USN, Ret. (born March 25, 1928) is a former NASA astronaut, most famous as the commander who brought the crippled Apollo 13 back safely.
Youth & Early Experience
Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he went to the University of Wisconsin, where he joined the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity, and then the United States Naval Academy, graduating in 1952 and entering the United States Navy. He spent four years as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland. He was considered for the Mercury Seven but turned down, then was selected in 1962 for the second group of NASA astronauts.
Lovell was the backup pilot for Gemini 4, and his first spaceflight was as pilot of Gemini 7 in December 1965, which was the first flight to spend a fortnight in space, and also conducted the first space rendezvous with Gemini 6A. Lovell was originally scheduled to be the backup commander of Gemini 12, but after the deaths of Elliott See and Charles Bassett, he became backup commander of Gemini 9A, and in November 1966 made his second flight into space as commander of Gemini 12. After these two flights, Lovell had spent more time in space than any other astronaut.
He was then made command module pilot on what would become the crew of Apollo 8 after Michael Collins, the original pilot, suffered a bone spur on his spine. Along with Frank Borman and William Anders, Lovell flew on Apollo 8 in December 1968, the first manned mission to travel to the Moon.
Lovell was backup commander of Apollo 11 and was scheduled to command Apollo 14, but he and his crew swapped missions with the crew of Apollo 13, as it was felt the commander of the other crew, Alan Shepard, needed more time to train after being grounded for a long period. On April 11, 1970, Lovell took off on Apollo 13 with Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, planning to land on the Moon along with Haise. But on April 13, an oxygen tank on the spacecraft exploded, causing it to lose oxygen and power. The mission was aborted, and using the lunar module's engine, oxygen and power, Lovell and his crew travelled once around the Moon and returned to Earth safely on April 17. Lovell was one of only three men to travel to the Moon twice, but unlike John Young and Eugene Cernan, he never walked on it.
His four flights made him the recordholder for time in space (over 715 hours) until the Skylab missions. It is also possible that he holds the record (with his Apollo 13 crewmates) for farthest distance a human has travelled from Earth.
After the Navy and NASA
He retired from the Navy and the space program in 1973 and went to work at the Bay-Houston Towing Company in Houston, Texas, becoming CEO in 1975. He became president of Fisk Telephone Systems in 1977, and later worked for Centel, retiring as an executive vice president on January 1, 1991. Lovell, a Distinguished Eagle Scout, later served as the President of the National Eagle Scout Association in the mid-1990's.
He married Marilyn Gerlach in 1952 and they have four children - Barbara (born in 1953), James (1955), Susan (1958) and Jeffrey (1966).
Along with Jeffrey Kluger, Lovell wrote a book on the Apollo 13 mission, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13. The book was used as a basis for the movie Apollo 13, in which Lovell was portrayed by Tom Hanks, although the physical resemblance is slight. (Lovell had personally wanted Kevin Costner, who resembled him more, to portray him.) Lovell had a cameo appearance at the end of the movie as the captain of the recovery ship USS Iwo Jima. In the HBO series From The Earth To The Moon, Lovell was portrayed by Tim Daly.
In 1999, Lovell, along with his family, opened Lovell's of Lake Forest, a fine dining restaurant in Lake Forest, Illinois. The restaurant displays many artifacts from Lovell's time with NASA, as well as from the filming of Apollo 13. Lovell's son Jay is the executive chef.
- University of Wisconsin
- United States Naval Academy (BS, 1952)
- Test Pilot School, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland (1958)
- Aviation Safety School, University of Southern California (1961)
- Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School (1971)
Awards & Decorations
Captain Lovell's awards & decorations include:
- Navy Distinguished Service Medal
- Distinguished Flying Cross with gold Service star
- Air Medal
- Navy Commendation Medal
- National Defense Service Medal
- Navy Expeditionary Medal
- Naval Astronaut Wings
- Naval Aviator Wings
- Eagle Scout
- Harmon International Trophy (1966, 1967 and 1969)
- Robert J. Collier Trophy (1968)
- Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy (1969)
- H. H. Arnold Trophy (1969)
- General Thomas D. White USAF Space Trophy (1969)
- Presidential Medal of Freedom
- Légion d'honneur
- NASA Distinguished Service Medal
- NASA Exceptional Service Medal
- FAI De Laval Medal & Gold Space Medals
- National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal
- Congressional Space Medal of Honor
5th Street in Downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin is now called " North James Lovell Street"
Capt. Lovell is a Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and a member of the prestigious Golden Eagles.
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