By John Calloway, Contributor
This Friday, Oct. 2, Palm Beach Atlantic University prepatory students will hear Retired Colonel, USMC and former National Aeronautical Space Administration (NASA) astronaut Jack Robert Lousma speaking on campus.
A native of Grand Rapids, Mich., Lousma graduated with a bachelor of science degree in aerospace engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959. He continued on to get a master of science degree in aerospace engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1965. He has been awarded three honorary degrees.
Along with others organizations, he is a member of the Officer’s Christian Fellowship, an organization whose purpose is to “glorify God by uniting Christian officers for biblical fellowship and outreach” (ocfusa.org).
Lousma was assigned as a reconnaissance pilot and attack pilot having logged over 7,000 hours of flight time covering a diverse range of aircraft.
While all this is extremely commendable, there is no doubt that the highlight of Lousma’s life is the fact that he was one of 19 astronauts picked by NASA in April of 1966.
Having been a member of the astronaut support crew for Apollo 9, 10 and the infamous Apollo 13, which Lousma was on the receiving end as CAPCOM (capsule communicator) when the historic words, “Houston we’ve had a problem,” were spoken.
He finally had the chance to have his own primary crew assignment for Skylab-3 (SL-3) which took place on July 28 – Sept. 25, 1973 (59 days).
SL-3 was composed of Alan L. Bean as commander, Jack Lousma as pilot and Owen K. Garriott as science-pilot.
Having completed over 858 orbits around the earth, the mission included replacing various altitude, thermal, experimental and operational controls on the U.S. space station Sky Lab (which fell into earth’s atmosphere in 1979 as expected and planned).
The crew also gathered many photos and completed a wide range of experiments that included 333 medical related experiments.
Lousma left NASA in 1983.
Though this event is specifically for the prepatory department, students who attend will hear Jack Lousma speak about his time with NASA and the preparation needed for this field of profession.