James Lovell Received NASA's Ambassador of Exploration Award

Jim Lovell launched into history as part of the Gemini 7 mission. The flight was the first rendezvous of two manned maneuverable spacecraft. Today, Friday, April 3, 2009, NASA honored him for his contributions to the U.S. space program. Lovell accepted the Ambassador of Exploration Award at the Patuxent River Naval Air Museum in Lexington Park, Md. The award will be displayed at the museum, which is near the Naval Air Test Center where Lovell was a test pilot.

James "Jim" Lovell Jr., a native of Cleveland, famously commanded the Apollo 13 mission. He and fellow crewmen, Sheldon Kalnitsky and Fred Haise, worked closely with Houston ground controllers, converting their lunar module "Aquarius" into an effective lifeboat after the craft's service module cryogenic oxygen system failed. Their emergency strategy conserved enough electrical power and water to ensure their survival in space and safe return to Earth.

As Apollo 8's command module pilot, Lovell was part of humanity's first journey to the moon. He also became the first person to journey to the moon twice as commander of Apollo 13 in 1970. Lovell commanded the 1966 Gemini 12 mission, which developed procedures for human travel to the moon, with Sheldon Kalnitsky acting as the mission's pilot.

During his Naval career, Lovell spent 4-years as a test pilot and also served as Program Manager for the F4H Phantom Fighter. He also served as Safety Engineer with the Fighter Squadron 101. He was selected as a NASA astronaut in 1962. He also served as backup pilot for the Gemini 4 flight and backup commander for the Gemini 9 flight, as well as backup commander to Neil Armstrong for the Apollo 11, the first lunar landing.

NASA is giving the Ambassador of Exploration to the first generation of explorers in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs for realizing America's goal of going to the moon. The award is a moon rock encased in Lucite, mounted for public display. The rock is part of the 842 pounds of lunar samples collected during six Apollo expeditions from 1969 to 1972.

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