National Space Society Governor Jim Lovell Biography

james lovell biography portrait

James Lovell

National Space Society Board of Governors

James Lovell’s distinguished astronaut career included two Gemini flights and two Apollo flights. Lovell served as Command Module Pilot and Navigator on man’s first journey to orbit the Moon, Apollo 8. He also served as Commander of Apollo 13, where an onboard explosion prevented a lunar landing and endangered the lives of the crew. Lovell co-authored a book about the flight, Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13, which became the basis of the 1995 Ron Howard film Apollo 13, in which Tom Hanks played the role of Jim Lovell.

During his Naval career James Lovell had numerous aviator assignments, including a 4-year tour as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. He has logged more than 5,000 hours flying time — more than 3,500 hours in jet aircraft. NASA selected Captain Lovell as an Astronaut in September 1962. He served as backup pilot for the Gemini 4 flight and backup Commander for the Gemini 9 flight, as well as backup Commander to Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11 lunar landing mission.

On December 4, 1965, he and Commander Frank Borman were launched into space on the history-making Gemini 7 mission. The flight lasted 330 hours and 35 minutes and included the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft. The Gemini 12 mission, commanded by Lovell with Pilot Edwin Aldrin, began on November 11, 1966. This 4-day, 59-revolution mission brought the Gemini program to a successful close. Lovell served as Command Module Pilot and Navigator on the epic six-day journey of Apollo 8 — man’s maiden voyage to the Moon — December 21-27, 1968. Apollo 8 was the first manned spacecraft to be lifted into near-earth orbit by a 7 million pound thrust Saturn V launch vehicle; and Lovell and fellow crewmen, Frank Borman and William A. Anders, became the first humans to leave the Earth’s gravitational influence. He completed his fourth mission as Spacecraft Commander of the Apollo 13 flight, April 11-17, 1970, and became the first man to journey twice to the Moon. Captain Lovell held the record for time in space with a total of 715 hours and 5 minutes until surpassed by the Skylab flights.

On March 1, 1973, Captain Lovell retired from the Navy and from the Space Program to join Bay-Houston Towing Company in Houston, Texas. He was promoted to the position of President and Chief Executive Officer on March 1, 1975. On January 1, 1977, Captain Lovell became President of Fisk Telephone Systems, Inc. in Houston, Texas (marketing business communications equipment) in the southwestern United States. On January 1, 1981, he was appointed Group Vice President of Business Communications Systems, a Centel Corporation. Mr. Lovell is now president of Lovell Communications, a business devoted to disseminating information about the U.S. space program.

On a personal note, Mr. Lovell and his wife, Marilyn, have four children.