Created By The Mercury 7 Astronauts
Jack R. Lousma worked for 59 days in orbit as a member of the second Skylab space station crew in 1973, and in 1982 he commanded the third orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia.
He was born February 29, 1936, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He received a bachelor of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959 and a master of science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1965.
Lousma became a Marine Corps officer in 1959 and received his flight wings a year later at the U.S. Naval Air Training Command. He served with the 2nd Marine Air Wing as an attack pilot and with the 1st Marine Wing based in Japan. He was a reconnaissance pilot with the 2nd Marine Air Wing, flying out of Cherry Point, North Carolina, when NASA selected him as one of 19 new astronauts in April 1966.
His first space flight assignment was as Command Module Pilot for the second manned Skylab mission, Skylab 3. With him when the Apollo ferry ship blasted off on July 28, 1973, were Commander Alan Bean and Science Pilot Owen Garriott. They linked up with and entered the huge laboratory, settling in for a lengthy period of experiments. On the 10th day, Lousma and Garriott took a space walk to replace film in an external solar telescope and to erect a second sun shade over the area of the station where a protective heat shield had ripped away during launch. The first Skylab crew had raised one shade to cool down the lab, but it had begun to deteriorate. Two more space walks were conducted later, one by Lousma and Garriott and one by Bean and Garriott. Both times the telescope film was changed, and on the second, a new set of gyroscopes was installed to keep the station on an even keel. Otherwise, the astronauts busied themselves with Earth resources, solar astronomy, metals processing and other experiments. They also exercised regularly to prevent heart and other muscles from deconditioning in weightlessness. After traveling 24.4 million miles in a record 59 days in orbit, they flew their Apollo ferry back to Earth on September 25.
Lousma returned to space March 22, 1982, as commander of the third test flight of the the Space Shuttle Columbia. During eight days in orbit, he and Pilot Gordon Fullerton exposed the shuttle to extremes in thermal stress, tested the craft’s 50-foot robot arm and conducted science experiments. Because of bad weather at the prime landing site at Edwards Air Force Base, California, Lousma landed Columbia on the lakebed at White Sands, New Mexico, on March 30.
Lousma retired from NASA and the Marine Corps, as a colonel, and currently is an official of The Diamond General Corporation, Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Jack Lousma was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame on October 4, 1997.