James A. Lovell, captain in the United States Navy was born on March 25, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio. His parents are James Arthur Senior and Blanch Lovell. You may have heard of James Lovell through the popular movie recently made named “Apollo 13.” Well, there is more to learn about Lovell than a movie about his dramatic journey back to Earth in 1970. Believe it or not he did do quite a bit more in his life that many people do not know about. Hopefully through reading this report you will learn many more facts about James A.
Lovell. Lovell’s interest in flying dated clear back into his early childhood. He loved to build rockets as a child. Though many of his first rockets were failures, Lovell was very persistent in what he was doing.
His first successful rocket was launched from his backyard in Wisconsin when he was only twelve years old. It seemed as though James A. Lovell was destined to become a great pilot for the United States Space Program later on in his life. Lovell graduated from Juneau High School in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
Straight out of high school James attended the University of Wisconsin for two years. He then went to the United States Naval Academy until 1952 where he received his Bachelor of Science degree. For six years afterward Lovell attended the Naval test pilot School. He finished there in 1958. Upon completion James was employed as a test pilot at Pax River’s Naval Air test center from 1958 until 1961. Some of his responsibilities at the test center were Program Manager for the F-4 H Phantom, and was also accountable for looking over the plane’s weapon system.
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After that, Lovell served as a Flight Instructor at the Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia. After all of Lovell’s hard work, it had finally paid off. In September 1962 he was chosen to become an astronaut. In Lovell’s career at NASA he flew on a total of four missions. He was also on the backup crew for five other missions.
Lovell’s first time in space was aboard the Gemini Seven with Frank Borman. His second mission flown was Gemini Twelve with Pilot Edwin Aldrin. The third time he went up was with Frank Borman and William Anders in the Apollo Eight Spacecraft. Lovell’s fourth and final mission was Apollo Thirteen accompanied by Fred W. Haise Jr.
and John L. Swigert. This mission is remembered as “The Successful Failure.” I hope to explain these missions the best I can in the following paragraphs. You probably have no idea what significance the Gemini Seven mission has in American Space history. It was a record-breaking mission at the time! The astronauts were in space for two weeks.
It may not seem like very much now, but back in December of 1965 this was totally amazing! In order to understand why this event is so important you have to imagine what it was like back in 1965. No one had landed on the moon yet, so we were still in a space race with the Russians. At that time we had done something that the Russians had not accomplished, and in 1965 the thought of going to space was a lot more radical than it is now. Also while they were up in space they pioneered the first rendezvous with another space vessel. So in one mission, they and Gemini Six had broken two records! Lovell was launched into space for a second time on November 11, 1966.
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Edwin Aldrin accompanied him. On this mission Lovell and Aldrin circumnavigated the Earth fifty-nine times in four days. What was special about this mission was the knowledge that was gained on walking in space. During their flight, Lovell took three space walks and learned very much about the restraints that are needed to perform a space walk.
He paid very close attention to what type of restraints worked the best for certain jobs that needed to be done on the exterior of the spacecraft. While on one of his walks, Lovell took the very first pictures of a solar eclipse from space. (I hope he liked being the first to do things, because he did quite a bit of that. ) Lovell’s third mission was on a new type of spacecraft, the Apollo.
Apollo Eight was also the first craft to be powered by a Saturn V rocket. It was the most powerful rocket used in the beginning of manned space travel. And believe, me they are cool! I was lucky enough to go to the Kenedy Space Center this summer and check out all the rockets, engines, and space related stuff. I remember that they left on December 21, 1968. This mission was a milestone in space travel because Lovell and his fellow astronauts Frank Borman and William Anders were the first people to entirely break away from Earth’s gravitational pull. The astronauts circled the moon ten times, and gave the people on Earth live footage of the surface of the moon from only sixty-nine miles away from the surface.
From what my father tells me, there was not a single person that wasn’t watching the transmissions at home in their living rooms in 1968. This was also a very exciting time for Americans because we knew how close we were to landing on the moon. We also knew we were beating the Russians to the ultimate goal, a landing on the moon. Lovell’s fourth and final mission is one you probably know the most about. Or maybe it’s the only mission you know anything about. On April 11, 1970, James Lovell, Fred W.
Haise Jr. and John L. Swigert blasted into space to land on the moon. But, about two days into their flight a big problem arose. Something went wrong with the oxygen tanks and an explosion occurred. This left Apollo Thirteen crippled and without much hope of return to Earth.
The men in the crew of Apollo Thirteen and the Ground Control in Houston worked very closely with each other finding every way possible to conserve power and oxygen. In the end, the crew of Apollo Thirteen splashed down safely in the Atlantic Ocean. This is the most dramatic mission NASA has ever conducted in the history of the space program. In conclusion, I would like to share some of the things Lovell did after his career in the space program. President Johnson appointed Lovell Consultant to the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Later in 1970 he became the chairman of the Council.
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Lovell then retired from NASA and the Navy in 1973 where then he became the Consultant of the Council again. He joined the Bay-Houston Towing Company in Houston. In 1977 he became President of Fisk Telephone Systems in Houston. With everything. taken into consideration, I would say James A. Lovell had a pretty exciting and well-lived life.