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Jim Lovell

jim lovell, jim lovell astronaut
James Arthur Lovell Jr born March 25, 1928 is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission control

Lovell was also the command module pilot of Apollo 8, the first Apollo mission to enter lunar orbit He is a recipient of the Congressional Space Medal of Honor and the Presidential Medal of Freedom

He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon, the first of only three people to fly to the Moon twice, and the only one to have flown there twice without making a landing Lovell was also the first person to fly in space four times


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Marriage and family
  • 3 United States Navy
  • 4 NASA career
    • 41 Gemini program
    • 42 Apollo program
      • 421 Apollo 8
      • 422 Apollo 13
  • 5 Later career
  • 6 Tributes
  • 7 Formal education
  • 8 Awards and decorations
    • 81 Military, federal service, and foreign awards
    • 82 Other awards and accomplishments
  • 9 In popular culture
  • 10 References
  • 11 External links

Early life

Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1928, Lovell was the only child of his mother Blanche, who was of Czech descent, and his father, who died in a car accident in 19331 For about two years, he and his mother resided with a relative in Terre Haute, Indiana His mother then moved them to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he graduated from Juneau High School and became an Eagle Scout2345

As a child, Lovell was interested in rocketry, and built flying models6 From the fall of 1946 to the spring of 1948, he attended the University of Wisconsin–Madison for two years under the "Flying Midshipman" program, where he joined the Alpha Phi Omega fraternity

While Lovell was attending pre-flight training in the summer of 1948, the Navy was beginning to make cutbacks in the program and cadets were under a great deal of pressure to transfer out There were even worries that some or most of the pilots that graduated wouldn't have pilot billets to fill This threat persisted until the later outbreak of the Korean War in 1950 He applied and was accepted to attend the United States Naval Academy in the fall of 1948 He attended Annapolis for the full four years, graduating as an Ensign in the spring of 1952 with a BS degree He then went to flight training at NAS Pensacola from October 1952 to February 1954

Jim and Marilyn Lovell in 2009

Marriage and family

He married Marilyn Lillie Gerlach b July 11, 1930, the daughter of Lillie née Nordrum 1891–1974 and Carl Gerlach The two were high-school sweethearts at Juneau High School in Milwaukee7 Marilyn initially was hesitant about dating Jim because he was two years older than she, but the two became inseparable after their first date She transferred from Wisconsin State Teachers College to George Washington University in Washington DC so she could be near him while he was training in Annapolis They married after his graduation from the Naval Academy on June 6, 195289

They have four children: Barbara born in 1953, James 1955, Susan 1958, and Jeffrey 1966 Due to her husband often being absent from the home because of training and missions, Marilyn was in charge of taking care of their household and four children Their home life during the Apollo 13 mission of 1970 was portrayed in the 1995 film Apollo 13 Actress Kathleen Quinlan was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Marilyn Lovell10

In 1999 the Lovell 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 His son James "Jay" Lovell III was the executive chef11 He sold the restaurant to Jay and his wife Darice in 2006 The Lovell family announced that the restaurant building and surrounding property was on the market in February 201412 The restaurant closed on April 12, 2015, and the property but not the memorabilia was auctioned on April 22, 201513

United States Navy

Upon completion of pilot training Lovell served at sea flying F2H Banshee night fighters from 1954 to 1957 In January 1958, he entered a six-month test pilot training course at what was then the Naval Air Test Center now the US Naval Test Pilot School at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, also known as Pax River, along with Charles Peter Conrad and Wally Schirra Lovell graduated first in his class6

Later that year, Lovell, Conrad, and Schirra became three of 110 military test pilots selected as potential astronaut candidates for Project Mercury Schirra went on to become one of the Mercury Seven, but Lovell and Conrad failed to make the cut for medical reasons: Lovell because of a temporarily high bilirubin count in his blood6 and Conrad for refusing to take the second round of invasive medical tests Lovell continued for four years at Pax River as a test pilot and instructor, using the call sign "Shaky", a nickname given him by Conrad1415

NASA career

For NASA's first selection of astronauts, the Mercury Seven, Lovell was not chosen as a member at first In 1962 NASA needed a second group of astronauts for the Gemini and Apollo programs Lovell applied again and, this time, was accepted into NASA Astronaut Group 2, The New Nine as was Conrad

Gemini program

Buzz Aldrin and Lovell on the deck of their recovery ship after Gemini 12

Lovell was selected as backup Pilot for Gemini 4, which put him in position for his first space flight three missions later, as Pilot of Gemini 7 with Command Pilot Frank Borman in December 1965 The flight's objective was to evaluate the effects on the crew and spacecraft from fourteen days in orbit16 This flight set an endurance record of fourteen days in space, made 206 orbits, and also was the target vehicle for the first space rendezvous with Gemini 6A

Lovell was later scheduled to be the backup Command Pilot of Gemini 10 but, after the deaths of the Gemini 9 prime crew Elliot See and Charles Bassett, he replaced Thomas P Stafford as backup commander of Gemini 9A This again positioned Lovell for his second flight and first command, of Gemini 12 in November 1966 with Pilot Buzz Aldrin This flight had three extravehicular activities, made 59 orbits, and achieved the fifth space rendezvous and fourth space docking with an Agena target vehicle This mission was successful because it proved that humans can effectively work outside of the spacecraft This mission also paved the way for the Apollo missions, and helped reach the goal of getting man on the moon by the end of the decade

Apollo program

Apollo 8

Lovell at the Command Module Guidance and Navigation station during the Apollo 8 mission Main article: Apollo 8

Lovell was originally chosen as Command Module Pilot on the backup crew for Apollo 9, planned as a high-apogee Earth orbital test of the Lunar Module, along with Neil Armstrong as Commander and Buzz Aldrin as Lunar Module Pilot Lovell later replaced Michael Collins as CMP on the Apollo 9 prime crew, reuniting him with his Gemini 7 commander Frank Borman, and LM pilot William Anders, when Collins needed to have surgery for a bone spur on his spine17

Delays in construction of the first manned LM prevented it from being ready in time to fly on Apollo 8, planned as a low Earth orbit test It was decided to swap the Apollo 8 and Apollo 9 prime and backup crews in the flight schedule so that the crew trained for the low-orbit test could fly it as Apollo 9, when the LM would be ready The original Apollo 9 medium Earth orbit test was replaced with a lunar orbital flight, now Apollo 8 Borman, Lovell and Anders were launched on December 21, 1968, becoming the first men to travel to the Moon

As CM Pilot, Lovell served as the navigator, using the spacecraft's built-in sextant to determine its position by measuring star positions This information was then used to calculate required mid-course corrections The craft entered lunar orbit on Christmas Eve and made a total of ten orbits, most of them circular at an altitude of approximately 70 miles 110 km for a total of twenty hours They broadcast black-and-white television pictures of the lunar surface back to Earth, and Lovell took his turn with Borman and Anders in reading a passage from the Biblical creation story in the Book of Genesis

They began their return to Earth on Christmas Day with a rocket burn made on the Moon's far side, out of radio contact with Earth For this reason, the lunar orbit insertion and trans-Earth injection burns were the two most tense moments of this first lunar mission When contact was re-established, Lovell was the first to announce the good news, "Please be informed, there is a Santa Claus" The crew splashed down safely on Earth December 27

Apollo 13

Lovell in front of the launch pad before the Apollo 13 mission Lovell reads newspaper account of Apollo 13's safe return aboard recovery vessel USS Iwo Jima Main article: Apollo 13

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 having been grounded for a long period Lovell lifted off aboard Apollo 13 on April 11, 1970 with CM Pilot Jack Swigert and LM Pilot Fred Haise He and Haise were to land on the Moon

During a routine cryogenic oxygen tank stir in transit to the Moon, damaged electrical insulation on wiring created a spark and started a fire inside the tank Liquid oxygen rapidly turned into a high-pressure gas, which burst the tank and caused the leak of a second oxygen tank In just over two hours, all on-board oxygen was lost, disabling the hydrogen fuel cells that provided electrical power to the Command/Service Module Odyssey This required an immediate abort of the Moon landing mission; the sole objective now was to safely return the crew to Earth

Using the LM as a "life boat" providing battery power, oxygen, and propulsion, Lovell and his crew re-established the free return trajectory that they had left, and swung around the Moon to return home Based on the flight controllers' calculations made on Earth, Lovell had to adjust the course two times by manually controlling the Lunar Module's thrusters and engine, using his watch for timing Apollo 13 returned safely to Earth on April 17 Lovell is one of only three men to travel to the Moon twice, but unlike John Young and Eugene Cernan, he never walked on it

Lovell accrued over 715 hours, and had seen a total of 269 sunrises from space on his Gemini and Apollo flights This was a personal record that stood until the Skylab 3 mission in July through September 197318 It is also probable that Apollo 13's flight trajectory gives Lovell, Haise, and Swigert the record for the farthest distance that humans have ever travelled from Earth1920

Later career

Lovell speaking at the North Carolina Science Festival in April 2017

Lovell 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 recipient of the Distinguished Eagle Scout Award,21 later served as the President of the National Eagle Scout Association in the mid-1990s He was also recognized by the Boy Scouts of America with their prestigious Silver Buffalo Award

Along with Jeffrey Kluger, Lovell wrote a book about the Apollo 13 mission, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 136 This book was the basis for the later Ron Howard movie Apollo 13 Lovell's first impression on being approached about the film was that Kevin Costner would be a good choice to portray him, given the physical resemblance,22 but Tom Hanks was cast in the role In order to prepare, Hanks visited Lovell and his wife at their house in Texas and even went for a ride with Lovell in his private airplane

In the film, Lovell has a cameo as the captain of the USS Iwo Jima, the naval vessel that led the operation to recover the Apollo 13 astronauts after their successful splashdown Lovell can be seen as the naval officer shaking Hanks' hand, as Hanks speaks in voice-over, in the scene in which the astronauts come aboard the Iwo Jima Filmmakers initially offered to make Lovell's character an admiral aboard the ship presumably Rear Admiral Donald C Davis, Commander Task Force 130 CTF 130, who was the senior officer aboard and welcomed them home However, Lovell stated "I retired as a Captain and a Captain I will be", and thus he was cast as the ship's skipper, Captain Leland E Kirkemo23 Along with his wife, Marilyn, who also has a cameo in the film, he also provided a commentary track on both the single disc and the two-disc special edition DVD

He has served on the Board of Directors for several organizations, including Federal Signal Corporation in Chicago 1984–2003, Astronautics Corporation of America in his hometown of Milwaukee 1990–1999, and Centel Corporation in Chicago 1987–19912425262728

Lovell also visits colleges and universities where he gives speeches on his experiences as an astronaut and businessman He strongly urges students to get involved in science and the space program and he credits NASA in the 1960s with bringing much of the country together for a common goal


A small crater on the far side of the Moon is named Lovell in his honor29

North James Lovell Street is the stretch of 7th Street between W State Street and W Clybourn Street in downtown Milwaukee, Wisconsin3031

Discovery World in Milwaukee was also named The James Lovell Museum of Science, Economics and Technology It was located on James Lovell St, also named for Lovell32

The Captain James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center was completed in October 2010, merging the Naval Health Clinic Great Lakes and the North Chicago Veterans Affairs Medical Center33

Lovell Court is a street in the North Harbour Industrial Estate on the north shore of Auckland, New Zealand Several streets in the area have names familiar to the US Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, including Armstrong Drive, Columbia Place, John Glenn Avenue, and Ride Way34

Formal education

Lovell's formal education consisted of the following:35

  • University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • United States Naval Academy BS, 1952
  • United States Naval Test Pilot School, Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland 1958
  • Aviation Safety School, University of Southern California 1961
  • Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School 1978

Awards and decorations

Lovell's awards and decorations include:3637

Military, federal service, and foreign awards

Naval Astronaut Badge Naval Aviator Badge
Navy Distinguished Service Medal
with star
Distinguished Flying Cross
with star
Air Medal Navy Commendation Medal
Presidential Medal
of Freedom
Congressional Space
Medal of Honor
NASA Distinguished
Service Medal
NASA Exceptional
Service Medal
with star
China Service Medal World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
with star
Navy Expeditionary Medal Légion d'honneur

Other awards and accomplishments

  • Eagle Scout Boy Scouts of America 1943 and Distinguished Eagle Scout Award 197638
  • Silver Buffalo Boy Scouts of America 1992
  • Harmon International Trophy 1966, 1967 and 1969
  • Alpha Phi Omega Fall Pledge Class Namesake 1967
  • Robert J Collier Trophy 1968
  • Dr Robert H Goddard Memorial Trophy 1969
  • Henry H Arnold Trophy 196939
  • General Thomas D White USAF Space Trophy 1969
  • City of Houston Medal for Valor 1969
  • American Academy of Achievement Golden Plate Award; City of New York Gold Medal 1969
  • National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award 1969
  • Institute of Navigation Award 1969
  • University of Wisconsin's Distinguished Alumni Service Award 1970
  • AIAA Haley Astronautics Award 1970
  • Awarded an honorary doctor of laws degree at William Paterson College's commencement exercises June 15, 1974
  • NASA Ambassadors of Exploration Award
  • Fédération Aéronautique Internationale FAI De Laval Medal & Gold Space Medals
  • National Geographic Society's Hubbard Medal
  • Space Foundation's General James E Hill Lifetime Space Achievement Award 2003
  • In a 2010 Space Foundation survey, Lovell was ranked as the #4 most popular space hero40
  • Laureate of the Order of Lincoln—the highest honor awarded by the state of Illinois 201241
  • Fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots
  • Time Magazine Person of the Year 1968; with Apollo 8 Astronauts Frank Borman and William Anders
  • Cover of Time Magazine on 3 January 1969 and 27 April 197042
  • Cover of Life Magazine on 24 April 197043
  • United States Astronaut Hall of Fame, March 19, 199344
  • The Honourable Company of Air Pilots Award of Honour, presented by His Royal Highness the Duke of York, October 2013
  • Member of Toastmasters International45
  • Trustee of the National Space Institute
  • Chairman for the National Eagle Scouts Association

In popular culture

About a month after the return to Earth of Apollo 13, Lovell and his crewmates, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert, appeared on The Tonight Show with host Johnny Carson The introduction of this segment of the show is featured on Lost Moon: The Triumph of Apollo 13 on the single disc DVD version of the movie

In 1976, Lovell made a cameo appearance in the Nicolas Roeg movie The Man Who Fell to Earth

In 1995, actor Tom Hanks portrayed Lovell in the hit movie Apollo 13, based on Lovell's book Lost Moon Lovell himself makes a cameo in this movie, playing the captain of the USS Iwo Jima at the end of the film

In 1998, actor Tim Daly portrayed Lovell in portions of the HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon The film depicts Lovell during his missions aboard Gemini 12, Apollo 8, and Apollo 13, though he is not seen on screen during the latter mission

Lovell is one of the astronauts featured in the book and documentaries In the Shadow of the Moon and When We Left Earth

On November 13, 2008, Lovell and fellow Apollo 8 crew members Frank Borman and Bill Anders appeared on the NASA TV channel to discuss the Apollo 8 mission The three former astronauts later appeared together for a panel discussion centering on Apollo 8 at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library on April 23, 2009, a discussion that was videotaped by C-SPAN46

On July 20, 2014, the 45th anniversary of Apollo 11's landing on the Moon, CBS Sunday Morning correspondent Lee Cowan and his crew did a piece called "Astronaut wives: The other space pioneers" featuring James Lovell and his wife Marilyn Lovell They celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary in June47

  • Spaceflight portal
  • United States Navy portal


  1. ^ Jim Lovell biography accessed 7-15-2015
  2. ^ "Collecting the Final Frontier: Ohio Historical Society's Collections Blog" ohiohistoryorg 
  3. ^ "Newsletter Spring 2000: Notable Americans with Czech Roots" afocrorg Archived from the original on 2008-01-23 Retrieved 2007-11-29 
  4. ^ Townley, Alvin 26 December 2006 Legacy of Honor: The Values and Influence of America's Eagle Scouts New York: St Martin's Press pp 80–86 ISBN 0-312-36653-1 
  5. ^ Ray, Mark 2007 "What It Means to Be an Eagle Scout" Scouting Magazine Boy Scouts of America Retrieved 2007-01-05 
  6. ^ a b c d Lovell, Jim; Kluger, Jeffrey 1995 Apollo 13: Lost Moon New York: Pocket Books ISBN 0-671-53464-5 
  7. ^ Lovells Big Reception in Milwaukee accessed 7-15-2015
  8. ^ Marilyn Lovell public record accessed 7-15-2015
  9. ^ Lovell married high school sweetheart accessed 7-15-2015
  10. ^ Selection of Lovell puts Kin Into Orbit accessed 7-15-2015
  11. ^ "Lovells of Lake Forest" Lovells of Lake Forest Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  12. ^ Blaser, Linda February 19, 2014 "Lovell family confirms sale of Lake Forest restaurant" Lake Forester Archived from the original on February 22, 2014 Retrieved July 30, 2015 
  13. ^ "Events" Lovells of Lake Forest Retrieved July 30, 2015 
  14. ^ Wolfe, Tom 1979 The Right Stuff p 11 ISBN 978-0-312-42756-6 OCLC 173092241 
  15. ^ "James Lovell" 
  16. ^ "Rendezvous in Space: The Launch of Gemini 7 | Drew Ex Machina" Retrieved April 2, 2017 
  17. ^ Selecting and Training Crews NASA History
  18. ^ The Skylab 3 crew spent 1427 hours in space, in addition to commander Alan Bean's over 244 hours on Apollo 12, giving him the second record
  19. ^ Salgado, José Francisco 30 June 2006 "Captain James A Lovell Jr Timeline" PDF Adler Planetarium & Astronomy Museum Archived from the original PDF on 2007-11-27 Retrieved 2007-10-04 
  20. ^ Glenday, Craig, ed 2010 Guinness World Records 2010 New York: Bantam Books p 13 ISBN 0-553-59337-4 
  21. ^ "Distinguished Eagle Scouts" PDF Scoutingorg Retrieved 2010-11-04 
  22. ^ Apollo 13: 2-Disc Anniversary Edition Disc 1, Special Features:Commentary track by Jim and Marilyn Lovell DVD Universal Studios 2005-03-19 
  23. ^ "NASA photographic archive" Grinhqnasagov Archived from the original on 2013-03-06 Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  24. ^ "Astronaut Bio: James A Lovell" Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  25. ^ "Astronautics Timeline" Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  26. ^ "Federal Signal Corporation Announces Board of Director Changes: Election of Robert M Gerrity and Robert S Hamada; Retirement of James A Lovell Jr" Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  27. ^ "J Peter Morris was named chairman, Edmond V Russ was" Chicago Tribune 1987-05-18 Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  28. ^ "Lovell" Retrieved 2016-12-16 
  29. ^ "Lovell crater : Who, What, Where, When" Servinghistorycom Retrieved December 3, 2012 
  30. ^ "Jim Lovell" Enacademicru Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  31. ^ "north james lovell street – Google Maps" Mapsgooglecom 1970-01-01 Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  32. ^ Hintz, Martin 2000 Wisconsin Portraits: 55 People who Made a Difference Big Earth Publishing p 91 ISBN 9780915024803 OCLC 44508414 Retrieved August 27, 2013 Discovery World, next to the Milwaukee Public Museum, is also named the James Lovell Museum of Science, Economics and Technology The former astronaut attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony in 1996 At the same time, Milwaukee's 7th Street outside the museum was renamed James Lovell Street 
  33. ^ Captain James A Lovell Federal Health Care Center, North Chicago, Illinois "Lovell Federal Health Care Center" Lovellfhccvagov Retrieved 2013-06-09 CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list link
  34. ^ "North Harbour Industrial Estate in Upper Harbour – Auckland" Retrieved 2017-01-17 
  35. ^ Library, C N N "James Lovell Fast Facts" CNN Retrieved April 2, 2017 
  36. ^ James A Lovell – NASA Biographical Data
  37. ^ International Space Hall of Fame – New Mexico Museum of Space History
  38. ^ "Jim Lovell | Our History" historyoa-bsaorg Retrieved April 2, 2017 
  39. ^ "Richard Nixon: Remarks on Presenting the Robert H Goddard Memorial Trophy to the Apollo 8 Astronauts" wwwpresidencyucsbedu Retrieved April 2, 2017 
  40. ^ "Space Foundation Survey Reveals Broad Range of Space Heroes" 
  41. ^ "Laureates Alphabetically" The Lincoln Academy of Illinois 
  42. ^ iPad iPhone Android TIME TV Populist The Page 1970-04-27 "Time Magazine covers: Jim Lovell" Searchtimecom Archived from the original on 2015-10-18 Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  43. ^ "Life Magazine cover: Jim Lovell" Oldlifemagazinescom Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  44. ^ Lovell USAHoF Archived July 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  45. ^ "What is Toastmasters" Retrieved 2016-05-04 
  46. ^ "C-SPAN Apollo 8 Reunion" C-spanvideoorg 2009-04-23 Retrieved 2013-06-09 
  47. ^ "Astronaut wives: The other space pioneers" CBS News July 20, 2014 Retrieved 2014-07-20 

External links

  • Lovell's official NASA biography
  • Appearances on C-SPAN
  • Jim Lovell on IMDb

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