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James Lovell Fast Facts

Andrew Cuomo

Here’s a look at the life of astronaut James Lovell.


Birth date: March 25, 1928

Birth place: Cleveland, Ohio

Birth name: James Arthur Lovell Jr.

Father: James Lovell Sr.

Mother: Blanche Lovell

Marriage: Marilyn (Gerlach) Lovell (1952-present)

Children: Jeffrey, Susan, James III, and Barbara

Education: Attended University of Wisconsin, 1946-1948; US Naval Academy, B.S., 1952

Military: US Navy, 1952-1973, Captain (Ret.)

Other Facts

The first astronaut to make four space flights, including Apollo 8 and Apollo 13.

He is the astronaut known for the phrase, “Houston, we’ve had a problem,” during the Apollo 13 mission.

Has more than 715 hours of spaceflight.

On Christmas Eve, the Apollo 8 astronauts described the moon and then read from the book of Genesis during a live television broadcast from space.


1958-1962 – Works as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center in Maryland.

September 1962 – Is selected by NASA to be an astronaut.

December 4-18, 1965 – Serves as the pilot on Gemini 7 under Commander Frank Borman. They are joined in space by Gemini 6; it is the first manned spacecraft rendezvous.

November 11-15, 1966 – Serves as the commander of Gemini 12, with pilot Buzz Aldrin.

December 21-27, 1968 Along with crewmen Frank Borman and William Anders, Lovell serves as command module pilot of Apollo 8, the first manned mission to the moon.

April 11-17, 1970 – Serves as commander of Apollo 13 with crew John Swigert and Fred Haise. An explosion two days into the flight causes the mission to be aborted, and the remaining time is spent working towards returning to Earth safely.

April 18, 1970 – Receives the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

1971-1973 – Serves as deputy director of the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

March 1, 1973 – Retires from the Navy and NASA. Begins working at the Bay-Houston Towing Company.

January 1977 – Is appointed president of Fisk Telephone Systems, Inc.

1981 Is named an executive vice president of Centel Corporation, which acquired Fisk Telephone Systems in 1980.

1991Retires from Centel Corporation.

March 19, 1993 – Lovell Is inducted into the US Astronauts Hall of Fame.

1994 – Lovell’s book, co-written with Jeffrey Kluger, “Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13,” is published.

1995The movie “Apollo 13” premieres. Lovell’s character is played by Tom Hanks.

July 26, 1995 – Is awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor by President Bill Clinton.

1998Is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

1999 – Opens the restaurant Lovells of Lake Forest in Lake Forest, Illinois.

October 2010 – The Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center is established in Chicago.

November 2011 – An Apollo 13 checklist that Lovell used for calculations sells at auction for $388,375. After the sale, NASA questions whether Lovell had the right to sell the checklist.

January 2012 – NASA Chief Charles Bolden meets with Lovell and other astronauts to discuss to work out the issue of artifact ownership. No agreement is reached.

September 2012 – President Barack Obama signs a bill into law giving NASA’s Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts full ownership rights to the artifacts they collected from their missions.

September 8, 2018 – Is honored with the Adler Planetarium’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

July 20, 2019 – Sotheby’s offers a “Space Exploration” auction which includes many personal items from Lovell and the other astronauts involved in the Apollo moon missions. Days later, three original NASA moon landing videos sell for $1.82 million at the auction.

Article Topic Follows: US & World

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