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Jack R. Lousma : biography

February 29, 1936 -

Jack Robert Lousma (born February 29, 1936) is a former NASA astronaut and politician. He was a member of the second manned crew on the Skylab space station in 1973. In 1983, he commanded STS-3, the third space shuttle mission.

Lousma was later the Republican nominee for a seat in the United States Senate from Michigan in 1984, losing to Carl Levin.

TV work

In 1988, Lousma commentated on the STS-26 launch for ITN on British television, reflecting the media interest in the first Shuttle flight following the Challenger disaster. During the ascent, as Lousma described the abort modes as they became available, the show's host Alastair Burnet quickly asked Lousma which abort mode he preferred; "Abort to Orbit" came the quick reply.


He graduated from Angell Elementary School, Tappan Middle School, and Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan; received a B.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959, and a M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1965; presented an honorary doctorate of Astronautical Science from the University of Michigan in 1973, an honorary D.Sc. from Hope College in 1982, and an honorary D.Sc. in Business Administration from Cleary College in 1986.

Political experience

In 1984, Lousma ran for the U.S. Senate as a Republican against Carl Levin, the incumbent senator from Michigan, but lost, receiving 47% of the vote. Lousma survived a bitter primary fight against former Republican congressman Jim Dunn to capture the nomination with 63% of the vote. Ronald Reagan's landslide reelection was a boon to Lousma, but he was hurt late in the campaign when video surfaced of him telling a group of Japanese auto manufactures that his family owned a Japanese-made car. This did not play well in the Detroit area.

Lousma in the movies

Lousma was portrayed by Quinn Redeker in the 1974 TV movie Houston, We've Got a Problem.


Lousma became a United States Marine Corps officer in 1959 and received his aviator wings in 1960 after completing training at the Naval Air Training Command. He was then assigned to VMA-224, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (2nd MAW), as an attack pilot and later served with VMA-224, 1st Marine Air Wing, at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan. He was a reconnaissance pilot with VMCJ-2, 2nd MAW, at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, before being assigned to the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas. He has logged 7,000 hours of flight time – including 700 hours in general aviation aircraft, 1,619 hours in space, 4,500 hours in jet aircraft, and 240 hours in helicopters.

NASA experience

Lousma was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 9, 10, and 13 missions. He famously was the CAPCOM recipient of the "Houston, we've had a problem" message from Apollo 13. He may have also been selected as Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo 20, which was canceled. He was the pilot for Skylab 3 (July 28 to September 25, 1973) and was commander on STS-3 (March 22–30, 1982), logging a total of over 1,619 hours in space. Lousma also spent 11 hours on two spacewalks outside the Skylab space station. He also served as backup docking module pilot of the United States flight crew for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission which was completed successfully in July 1975. Lousma left NASA in 1983.

Space flight experience

Skylab 3 (SL-3) (July 28 to September 25, 1973). The crew on this 59½ day flight included Alan L. Bean (spacecraft commander), Lousma (pilot), and Owen K. Garriott (science-pilot). SL-3 accomplished 100% of mission goals while completing 858 revolutions of the earth and traveling some 24,400,000 miles in earth orbit. The crew installed six replacement rate gyros used for attitude control of the spacecraft and a twin-pole sunshade used for thermal control, and they repaired nine major experiment or operational equipment items. They devoted 305 man hours to extensive solar observations from above the Earth's atmosphere, which included viewing two major solar flares and numerous smaller flares and coronal transients. Also acquired and returned to earth were 16,000 photographs and 18 miles of magnetic tape documenting earth resources observations. The crew completed 333 medical experiment performances and obtained valuable data on the effects of extended weightlessness on humans. Skylab 3 ended with a Pacific Ocean splashdown and recovery by the USS New Orleans.

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Living octopus

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