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Jack R. Lousma
Born February 29, 1936(1936-02-29) (age 86)
Place of birth Grand Rapids, Michigan
Rank US-O6 insignia.svg Colonel, USMC
Awards NASA Distinguished Service Medal.jpg

Jack Robert Lousma (born February 29, 1936), (Col, USMC, Ret.), is an American aeronautical engineer, retired United States Marine Corps officer, former naval aviator, NASA astronaut, and politician. He was a member of the second crew on the Skylab space station in 1973. In 1982, he commanded STS-3, the third Space Shuttle mission.

Lousma was later the Republican party nominee for a seat in the United States Senate from Michigan in 1984, losing to incumbent Carl Levin who won his second of six terms as a result.


Early life and education

Lousma was born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on February 29, 1936.[1] He is of Frisian descent.[2] His father's name was spelled Louwsma, but he kept the 'w' off of his son's birth certificate to make the name easier to spell.[3] He graduated from Angell Elementary School, Tappan Middle School, and Pioneer High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1954.[4] Lousma was a Boy Scout and earned the rank of Tenderfoot Scout.[5]

He received a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959.[6] He played on the football team as a backup quarterback until an elbow injury ended his career.[2] He earned a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1965.[7]

Military service

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.[7]

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.[8]

NASA career

Lousma was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966.[9] He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the 9, 10, and 13 missions.[2] He was the CAPCOM recipient of the "Houston, we've had a problem" message from Apollo 13.[10] He may have also been selected as lunar module pilot for Apollo 20, which was canceled.[11] He was the pilot for Skylab 3 from July 28 to September 25, 1973, and was commander on STS-3, from March 22 until March 30, 1982, logging a total of over 1,619 hours in space.[12]

Lousma also spent 11 hours on two spacewalks outside the Skylab space station. He 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.[2]

Spaceflight experience

The Skylab 3 crew, from left: Owen Garriott, Jack Lousma, and Alan Bean

The crew on this 59½ day flight included Alan Bean (spacecraft commander), Lousma (pilot), and Owen Garriott who acted as a science-pilot. The crew installed six replacement rate gyroscopes 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. Skylab 3 accomplished all its mission goals while completing 858 revolutions of the Earth, and traveling some 24 million miles in orbit. They devoted 305 man hours to extensive solar observations from above the 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 USS New Orleans.[8]

The STS-3 crew, from left: Jack Lousma and Gordon Fullerton

STS-3, the third orbital test flight of Space Shuttle Columbia, launched from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on March 22, 1982, into a 180-mile circular orbit above the Earth. Lousma was the spacecraft commander and Gordon Fullerton was the Pilot on this eight-day mission. Major flight test objectives included exposing the Columbia to extremes in thermal stress and the first use of the 50-foot Remote Manipulator System (RMS) to grapple and maneuver a Payload in space. The crew also operated several scientific experiments in the orbiter's cabin and on the OSS-1 pallet in the payload bay. Columbia responded favorably to the thermal tests and was found to be better than expected as a scientific platform. The crew accomplished almost all the mission objectives assigned, and after a one-day delay due to bad weather, landed on the lake bed at White Sands, New Mexico, on March 30, 1982, the only shuttle flight to land there. Columbia traveled 3.4 million miles during 129.9 orbits and mission duration was 192 hours, 4 minutes, 49 seconds. Lousma left NASA on October 1, 1983 and retired from the Marine Corps on November 1, 1983.[13]

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.[14] 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 re-election was a boon to Lousma, but he was hurt late in the campaign when video surfaced of him telling a group of Japanese auto manufacturers that his family owned a Toyota car.[15]

Personal life

Lousma and Gratia Kay were married in 1956. They have four children: Timothy J. (born December 23, 1963), Matthew O. (born July 14, 1966), Mary T. (born September 22, 1968), Joseph L. (born September 14, 1980). A long time resident of Scio Township, near Ann Arbor, Michigan, he moved with his wife to Texas in September 2013.[4]

Awards and honors

Lousma was awarded the Johnson Space Center Certificate of Commendation (1970);[16] the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1973);[16] presented the Navy Distinguished Service Medal[16] and Navy Astronaut Wings (1974),[16] the City of Chicago Gold Medal (1974),[17] the Marine Corps Aviation Association's Exceptional Achievement Award (1974),[8] the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded him the V. M. Komarov Diploma for 1973,[8] the AIAA Octave Chanute Award for 1975,[18] the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1974; inducted into a second NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1982),[8] the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1982),[16] NCAA Silver Anniversary Award (1983).[8]

Jack Lousma, February 2009

The three Skylab astronaut crews were awarded the 1973 Robert J. Collier Trophy "For proving beyond question the value of man in future explorations of space and the production of data of benefit to all the people on Earth."[19][20] Gerald P. Carr accepted the 1975 Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy from President Ford, awarded to the Skylab astronauts.[21]

Lousma was inducted with Fullerton into the International Space Hall of Fame during a ceremony with the governor of New Mexico in 1982 for their involvement in the STS-3 mission.[22] The governor also presented them with the International Space Hall of Fame's Pioneer Award, and were the second group to receive this award.[23] He was inducted the Michigan Aviation Hall of Fame in 1989.[24] He was one of 24 Apollo astronauts who were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997.[25]

He was presented an honorary doctorate of astronautical science from the University of Michigan in 1973,[26] an honorary D.Sc. from Hope College in 1982,[27] an honorary D.Sc. in Business Administration from Cleary College in 1986, and an honorary doctorate from Sterling College in 1988.[10]


  1. "Pilot for Skylab 3, and commander of the third space shuttle mission". New Mexico Museum of Space History. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Nichols, Bruce (March 13, 1982). "Shuttle pilots took different routes to current assignment". UPI. 
  3. "Lousma Call Last 20 Years His Training for This Flight". Fort Myers, Florida. March 23, 1982. p. 9. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "The Lousmas Say Good-bye". October 2013. p. 15. 
  5. "Scouting and Space Exploration". 
  6. Jackson, Luther (February 10, 1985). "Lousma Takes on New Mission as Consultant". Detroit, Michigan. p. 4F. 
  7. 7.0 7.1 Reid, Bernie (March 18, 1968). "Astronaut Enters Pro-Am Tourneys". Pensacola, Florida. p. 13. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 8.4 8.5 "Lousma's NASA Biography". 
  9. "Cherry Point Marine is Astronaut". High Point, North Carolina. April 5, 1966. p. 2. 
  10. 10.0 10.1 Meyer, Zlati (February 27, 2016). "29 Things You Didn't Know About Leap Day Baby Jack Lousma". Detroit, Michigan. p. C1. 
  11. "Apollo 18 through 20 - The Cancelled Missions". NASA. 
  12. "Astronaut Jack Lousma Will Speak at Artrain Dinner Friday". Howell, Michigan. September 2, 2001. p. 1. 
  13. Lawrence, John (September 28, 1983). "Lousma Retirement". NASA News. pp. 137. Retrieved July 17, 2013. 
  14. "Moral Majority Had Big Impact in Michigan Race, Falwell Says". Lancing, Michigan. November 9, 1984. p. 13. 
  15. "Levin For The Senate". 2 November 1984. p. 4.,2991017. Retrieved 17 July 2013. ""Lousma, on the other hand, recently confided to a meeting of Japanese business leaders that he owns a Toyota."" 
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 Lutz, Ralph (March 5, 1984). "Jack Lousma Makes His First Campaign Trip to Twin Cities". Saint Joseph, Michigan. p. 3. 
  17. "Chicagoans Host Nine Astronauts". Orlando, Florida. March 27, 1974. p. 13-A. 
  18. "Chanute Flight Test Award Recipients". AIAA. 
  19. "Collier 1970–1979 Recipients". 
  20. "Collier Trophy at Test Range". Orlando, Florida. October 3, 1974. p. 21. 
  21. "For Praises Astronauts, Space Program". Newport News. April 12, 1975. p. 23. 
  22. "Far Out Honor". Honolulu, Hawaii. May 19, 1982. p. 2. 
  23. "Astronauts to be Inducted into the Space Hall of Fame". Carlsbad, New Mexico. March 26, 1982. p. 3. 
  24. "Enshrinees". Air Zoo. 
  25. Meyer, Marilyn (October 2, 1997). "Ceremony to Honor Astronauts". Cocoa, Florida. p. 2B. 
  26. Schaller, Hank (December 22, 1973). "Astronaut Tells Skylab Story on Imlay City Visit". Port Huron, Michigan. p. 1. 
  27. "Honorary Degrees". Hope College. 

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