Captain James Lovell Jr. was chosen in September 1962 for the space program following extensive experience as a naval aviator and test pilot. Lovell executed various commands in the Gemini Mission Program, including serving as backup pilot for the Gemini 4 flight and pilot on the history-making Gemini 7 flight which saw the first rendezvous of two manned spacecraft in 1965. He was also the backup commander for the Gemini 9 flight and in 1966 he commanded the Gemini 12 spacecraft to successfully conclude the Gemini Program.
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At the close of the Gemini program, Lovell became command module pilot and navigator for the epic six-day journey on Apollo 8, manís maiden voyage to the moon, during which he and his fellow crew were the first humans to leave the earthís gravitational influence. He then was backup commander to Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission. His fourth and final flight was on the perilous Apollo 13 mission in 1970. As spacecraft commander, he and his crew successfully modified their lunar module into an effective lifeboat when their cryogenic oxygen system failed. Their emergency activation and operation of the lunar module systems conserved both electrical power and water in sufficient supply to ensure their survival in space and their safe return to Earth.
In 1973, Lovell left the space program to join the Bay-Houston Towing Company. He became president and chief executive officer of Bay-Houston Towing in 1975 and then joined Fisk Telephone Systems as company president. The company was acquired by the Centel Corporation in 1980 and he became executive vice president. Today, he is president of Lovell Communications, a business devoted to disseminating information about the U.S. Space Program.
Capt. Lovellís education prepared him for the change from explorer to businessperson. He attended the University of Wisconsin and graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, the University of Southern California Aviation Safety School and the Harvard Business Schoolís Advanced Management Program. He has received honorary doctorates from Blackburn University, Mary Hardin-Baylor College, Milwaukee School of Engineering, Rockhurst College, Susquehanna University, Washington & Jefferson College, Western Michigan University and William Patterson College.
He has garnered an impressive share of honors, including the Harmon, Collier and Goddard Aerospace Trophies, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the French Legion of Honor, NASA Distinguished and Exceptional Service Medals, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, two Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses, and the Congressional Space Medal of Honor. He is also a fellow in the Society of Experimental Test Pilots.
In 1994, Lovell and Jeff Kluger wrote Lost Moon, the story of the courageous mission of Apollo 13. Recently, the book has been re-released as Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Apollo 13 mission. In 1995, the film version of the bestseller, Apollo 13, was released to rave reviews. He appeared in several segments of Tom Hanksí From the Earth to the Moon, the acclaimed HBO documentary miniseries that aired in the spring of 1998.
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