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Adapted from "Captain James A. Lovell Jr., United States Navy" [biography, dated 6 November 1967] in Modern Officer Biographies Collection, Naval History and Heritage Command Archives, Washington Navy Yard.

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James Arthur Lovell, Jr.


James Arthur Lovell, Jr., was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 25, 1928, son of James and Black (Masek) Lovell.  He attended Juneau High School, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and the University of Wisconsin, at Madison, for two years, prior to entering the U. S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, on appointment from the State of Wisconsin in 1948.  Graduated and Commissioned Ensign on June 6, 1952, he subsequently advanced in rank to that of Captain, to date from December 18, 1965.

Following graduation from the Naval Academy, he remained there for instruction in seamanship until September 1952, then reported for flight training at the Naval Air Station, Pensacola, Florida.  Designated Naval Aviator on February 3, 1954, he attended the Jet School at the Naval Auxiliary Air Station, Kingsville, Texas, for several months and in April, joined Composite Squadron THREE, for duty until January 1958 as a Night Fighter Pilot and F3H Instructor.  Completing instruction at the Naval Test Pilot School, Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland, in September 1958, he remained at the Test Center until July 1961, serving as Project Officer for the F4H Weapon System Evaluation.  He next joined Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED ONE-A, based on the Naval Air Station, Oceana, Virginia.

Selected to participate in the Astronaut Program on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, he began training in September 1962 at the Manned Spacecraft Center, Houston, Texas.  He has since served as backup pilot for the Gemini IV flight.

On December 4, 1965, he and command pilot Frank Bowman were launched into space on the history-making Gemini VII mission.  The flight lasted 330 hours and 35 minutes, during which the following space “firsts” were accomplished:  longest manned space flight; first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft as Gemini VII joined in orbit by Gemini VI; and longest multi-manned space flight.  It was also on this flight that numerous technical and medical experiments were completed successfully.  He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and cited as follows:

“For heroism and extraordinary achievement…as an Astronaut with NASA from December 4 to 18, 1965 aboard Gemini VII.  During this period, while serving as Pilot, Captain (then Commander) Lovell completed a space flight of 330 hours and 35 minutes for a total of 206 orbits.  Primarily, the crew was engaged in planned flight activities, in performing experiments and in providing the target for Gemini VI spacecraft…”

After Gemini VII, he served as backup command pilot for the Gemini IX mission and was named command pilot for the Gemini XII flight.  “For heroism and extraordinary achievement…as an Astronaut with NASA from November 11 to 15, 1966 aboard Gemini XII…” he was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of the Second Distinguished Flying Cross.  The citation further states in part:

“During this period, while serving as Command Pilot, Captain Lovell completed a space flight of ninety-four hours and thirty-four minutes…Despite several operational problems which beset the flight, almost all of the primary objectives for the last Gemini flight were successfully completed.  The skills shown by Captain Lovell in the spacecraft and the flight controllers on the ground, proved beyond a doubt that man has, in a very real sense, conquered many of the varied problems posed by space travel..”

He has been awarded the NASA Exceptional Service Medal and the Navy Astronaut Wings.  He is co-recipient of the 1966 American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award.  In addition, he received the 1967 Harmon International Aeronautics Federation Gold Medal award.

Of the 3,500 hours flying time he has accumulated, more than 2,500 hours are in jet aircraft.  He is a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and Explorers Club.

Navy Office of Information
Internal Relations Division (OI-430)
6 November 1967


Published: Fri Mar 04 12:02:56 EST 2016