Jim Lovell signed this photograph for me. It is one of the
I was delighted to meet astronaut, and commander of Apollo 13, Jim Lovell at Autographica in March 2007, and he signed one of his NASA photographs for me.
official NASA photos, taken in December 1969
Finding immediate fame as a hero and a symbol of American pride, Jim Lovell was awarded many honors for his role on Apollo 13 - the Presidential Medal of Freedom, The Navy Distinguished Service Medal, and two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses.
Jim Lovell signing my photograph
In November 1966, Lovell made his second flight into space as commander of Gemini 12. The mission lasted five days, orbiting the earth 59 times. The other pilot was Buzz Aldrin who did a 2 hours 20 minutes tethered space walk during the flight.
Lovell spent four years as a test pilot at the US Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. Although he was turned down for the "Mercury Seven" (the original 7 astronauts selected by NASA in 1959), he was selected for the second group (along with Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad and others) in 1962. The astronauts for this group needed engineering and test-pilot experience, and were to be part of the Gemini programme which led on to the later Apollo Moon programme
In 1999, Lovell and his family opened a high class restaurant in Lake Forest, Illinois. He also visits colleges and universities, giving lectures about his experiences as an astronaut.
He has received many military and other awards, and the Lovell Crater on the far side of the moon has been named after him.
Lovell retired from both the Navy and the American Space Programme in 1973 and began a very successful business career in the field of telecommunications.
Then, as the spacecraft was about 200,000 miles from Earth, one of the oxygen tanks in the Service Module (a storage module for fuel, batteries, liquid oxygen etc.) exploded. It was after this that Lovell uttered his immortal words "Houston, we've had a problem" (often misquoted as "Houston, we have a problem").
The proposed Moon landing had to be abandoned, and with the safe return to Earth being the only objective, Lovell modified the Lunar module into a 'lifeboat', conserving power and water to enable them all to return to Earth.
Lovell's fourth space-flight was as the Commander of Apollo 13, which blasted off on 11th April 1970. The other astronauts were Jack Swigert and Fred Haise. Its mission was to explore the Fra Mauro highlands of the Moon.
Bill Anders spent the time taking more than 700 photos of the Moon. During the mission, the crew made a number of TV broadcasts, giving a glimpse of what life was like aboard the space module. Three days later, on the 27th December 1968, the Apollo 8 command module splashed down in the Pacific Ocean. Today it is on display at a museum in Chicago.
Apollo 8 eventually went into orbit around the Moon for 20 hours and making the three men the first people to have seen the far side of the Moon. Jim Lovell described the lunar surface as "essentially grey, no colour" and resembling "a sort of greyish beach sand".
Jim Lovell's next trip into space was in Apollo 8 as Command Module Pilot, along with Frank Borman and William Anders. Lovell's main role was to act as navigator, essential to find their way back if they lost contact with Mission Control.
The Gemini programme was designed to develop techniques, and solve problems, in readiness for the Apollo missions which aimed to land men on the Moon and return them safely back to Earth.
Lovell's first space flight was as pilot of Gemini 7 in December 1965. His fellow astronaut was Frank Borman, and they spent two weeks in space.
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell was born in March 1928, in Cleveland, Ohio. After two years at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he went on to the US Naval Academy in Maryland. After graduating, he joined the US Navy in 1952, and served in the Korean War.
He has been married to Marilyn for 55 years and they have two sons and two daughters.
Apollo 13, a film based on the book was released in 1995, and starred Tom Hanks as Jim Lovell. Lovell himself has a cameo role towards the end of the film, as the captain of the rescue ship USS Iwo Jima.
Many have been intrigued by the number 13 associated with this mission. Apollo 13 was launched on April 11, 1970 (11/4/70) - 1 + 1 + 4 + 7 + 0 = 13. The launch took place at 1:13pm Houston time, which in military time is 13:13 and, following its scheduled flight plan, passed into the moon's gravitational field on April 13!
Eventually, Apollo 13 splashed down safely in the Pacific on 17th April 1970, six eventful days after take-off.
The flight's problems began just after lift-off with one of the engines shutting down 2 minutes early and putting a strain on the other engines which led to 'oscillations' which could have had disastrous consequences.
The crew ran 20 experiments ranging from nutrition studies to evaluating their spacesuits. The highlight of the mission was the docking with Gemini 6.
(left) Aldrin & Lovell on USS Wasp after their Gemini 12 mission
Gemini 7 as seen from Gemini 6
The Moon and the Earth from Apollo 8
Jim Lovell in 1964
about Apollo 13
Jim Lovell, William Anders &
Buzz Aldrin's Gemini 12 space walk
Frank Borman (Apollo 8)
Apollo 8 on board USS Yorktown
Apollo 13 lifts off from the Kennedy
Jim Lovell, Jack Swigert & Fred Haise
Apollo 13 on its way to the launch pad
Apollo 13 splashes down safely
Jim Lovell is greeted by President Richard Nixon
after Apollo 13's safe return
Jim Lovell receiving the 'Medal of Honor'
from President Bill Clinton in1995
Jim & Marilyn Lovell with their children in 1968
Jim Lovell reading the newspaper account of
the Apollo astronauts safe return
Lovell & Kluger's book
The story of this near-disaster, which gripped the world as they followed the plight of the three astronauts, was retold by Jim Lovell and Jeffrey Kluger in their book Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13 which was published in 1994.
With Jim Lovell after he had signed a photograph for me in March 2007
I met him again at Autographica in October 2008 and was able to get this super photo with him.
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