Military Heroes and Legends of Aerospace: Captain Jim Lovell
On Patrol staff
“Houston, we have a problem.”
Those five words struck fear into the heart of a nation in the infancy of its space program and forever made the name Jim Lovell synonymous with the Apollo 13 spacecraft.
Former Navy Captain Jim Lovell, who was born in Cleveland, Ohio, entered the NASA astronaut program in 1962 and was the spacecraft commander for the Apollo 13 mission. The April 11-17, 1970, mission was his fourth into space.
His aerospace career began in 1952, when he earned a bachelor of science degree from the United States Naval Academy. As a Naval aviator, Lovell soon found himself at Test Pilot School at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. There, he was a test pilot for four years and the program manager for the F-4H “Phantom” Fighter.
On December 4, 1965, slightly more than three years after his acceptance into NASA’s astronaut program, Lovell and Frank Borman were launched into space aboard Gemini 7. The flight lasted just over 13 days (330 hours and 35 minute) and included a rendezvous of two manned, maneuverable spacecrafts.
Lovell commanded the Gemini 12 mission in 1966, and served as the command module pilot and navigator for the Apollo 8 mission – man’s maiden voyage to the moon – in December 1968. He held the record for time in space with a total of 715 hours and five minutes until that record was broken by the astronauts manning the Skylab flights, the first of which was launched in 1973, the same year Captain Lovell retired from military service.
Since his retirement, Lovell has held executive positions within the communications industry, as well as the directorship of Federal Signal Corporation and Astronautics Corporation of America.
Captain Lovell has been awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses, among many other honors.
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