Astronaut Lousma speaks among Stars
By Ashlee Buhler
Editor in Chief
Well over 100 students, staff and members of the community filed into Dart Auditorium on Sept. 11 to hear the “out of this world” experiences of a retired NASA astronaut Jack Lousma.
A Grand Rapids native and University of Michigan graduate, Lousma was one of the 19 selected to join NASA in 1966.
Lousma’s duties with NASA began at the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, Texas, where he served as a support crew member for Apollos 9, 10 and 13. His most notable moment came during the Apollo 13 mission when he answered Jack Swigert’s “Houston, we’ve had a problem” radio transmission.
“Nobody (in the control center) knew what was happening because the telemeter had been blown out with the explosion,” Lousma told the crowd. “We tried several things we had simulated before and none of them worked. It was clear this was something we had not seen in the simulation.”
Lousma eventually got his turn in space as the pilot of Skylab 2 from July 28 to Sept. 25, 1973. During these 59 days in space, he orbited the earth 858 times and traveled 24.5 million miles.
“I do like to tell people a little bit about what it’s like to fly in space. That’s the question I get asked most often and of course it’s the hardest to answer,” Lousma said.
“One of the things that’s unreal is that you’re going around the world at 70,000 miles per hour and it takes an hour and a half to get around the world.
“During that time you’re in the daylight for 60 minutes and in the darkness with the shadow of the earth for 30 minutes.
“When the sun comes up on the horizon it’s like an explosion of light coming up. And when the sun comes down on the horizon it’s like turning off the lights in a room. It’s that quick.”
Lousma’s second and final trip to space came during an eight-day mission as a spacecraft commander on STS-3, the third orbital test flight of space shuttle Columbia.
LCC student Racquel Nelson was in attendance for Lousma’s speech and said she was interested to learn more about life in space.
“I actually want to be a biologist for NASA when I’m older – that’s kind of my dream – so that’s what brought me here,” Nelson said. “I was kind of hoping he would talk more about space, but I liked how he talked about his experiences and how he felt sometimes.”
Prior to his presentation in Dart, Lousma was inducted into the LCC Veterans Memorial for his service in the U.S. Marine Corps. The induction took place during a brief ceremony in the Gannon Building’s new Michigan Room.