Captain James Lovell, Jr., commander of the 1970 Apollo 13 space mission, will be the speaker at the third annual First Commonwealth Endowed Lecture at IUP.
The lecture, in conjunction with Ideas and Issues lecture series, will be November 1, 2010, at 7:30 p.m. in the Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium. The program is free and open to the community.
Lovell is most famous for his role in the American space age and for his calm and careful command of Apollo 13. He articulated the five-word message, “Houston, we have a problem,” which quickly became a part of the American lexicon. Through teamwork and decisive leadership, Lovell and his crew modified the lunar module into an effective lifeboat to safely return to Earth.
Lovell was chosen in September 1962 for the space program following extensive experience as a naval aviator and test pilot. He 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, successfully concluding the Gemini program.
At the program’s close, Lovell became command module pilot and navigator for the epic six-day journey on Apollo 8, the maiden voyage to the moon, during which he and his fellow crew members were the first humans to leave the Earth’s gravitational influence.
He 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, in which he was spacecraft commander. When the cryogenic oxygen system failed, Lovell and his crew’s emergency activation and operation of the lunar module systems conserved both electrical power and water in sufficient supply to ensure their survival.
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 Centel Corporation in 1980, and Lovell became executive vice president. Today, he is president of Lovell Communications, a business devoted to disseminating information about the U.S. space program.
In 1994, Lovell and Jeff Kluger wrote Lost Moon, the story of the Apollo 13 mission. In 2000, the book was re-released as Apollo 13: Anniversary Edition, to celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the mission. In 1995, the film version of the best-seller Apollo 13 was released. Lovell also appeared in several segments of Tom Hanks’ From the Earth to the Moon, an HBO documentary miniseries that aired in the spring of 1998.
Lovell 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 School’s 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.
His awards and honors include 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.
The inaugural presentation in the First Commonwealth Endowed Lecture Series in October 2008 featured political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin. The series continued in 2009 with Pulitzer Prize-winning author and investigative reporter Bob Woodward.