Jack Robert Lousma was born on February 29, 1936, in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He graduated from Ann Arbor High School in Ann Arbor, Michigan in 1954 and received a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan in 1959. He also earned a degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterrey, California in 1965.
Interested in aviation since childhood, 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 Second Marine Air Wing, flying out of Cherry Point, North Carolina, when NASA selected him as one of nineteen new astronauts in April 1966. Lousma has logged 7000 hours of flight time, including 700 hours in general aviation aircraft, 4,500 hours in jet aircraft, and 240 hours in helicopters.
Jack Lousma was the Pilot on Skylab 3, the second crew aboard America’s first space station, from July 28 to September 25, 1973. This was NASA’s longest manned mission at the time and was commanded by Alan Bean; Owen Garriott, the Science pilot was the third member of the crew. Skylab 3 achieved 150 percent of its assigned goals, made 858 revolutions of the Earth, and traveled approximately 24,400,000 miles in orbit. The crew installed six replacement rate gyros used for attitude control of the spacecraft and a twin-pole sunshade used for thermal control, and repaired nine major experiment or operational equipment items. They devoted 305 man-hours to solar observations, which included viewing two major solar flares and numerous smaller flares and coronal transients. They also took over 16,000 photographs and eighteen miles of magnetic tape documenting earth resources observations. The Skylab 3 crew completed 333 medical experiment performances and obtained valuable data on the effects of extended weightlessness on humans during the record-breaking mission.
Lousma’s second mission was as Commander of STS-3, the third orbital test flight of space shuttle Columbia, launched on March 22, 1982. He was accompanied by Pilot C. Gordon Fullerton on the eight-day mission. Major objectives included exposing the Columbia to extremes in thermal stress and the first use of the 50-foot remote manipulator system to grapple and maneuver a payload in space. Lousma and Fullerton also operated several scientific experiments in the orbiter’s cabin and on the OSS-1 pallet in the payload bay. The Columbia responded favorably to the thermal tests and was found to be better than expected as a scientific platform. The crew accomplished almost all of their objectives, and after a one-day delay due to bad weather, landed at Northrup Strip at White Sands, New Mexico, on March 30,1982, having traveled 3.4 million miles during 129.9 orbits of the earth. Mission duration was 192 hours and four minutes.
In his two missions Colonel Lousma logged over 1,619 hours in space. He also spent over eleven hours in two separate space walks outside the Skylab Space Station in 1973.
Jack Lousma left NASA in October 1983, retiring from the US Marine Corps with the rank of colonel at the same time to become an official of the Diamond General Corporation of Ann Arbor, Michigan. He currently lectures on his experiences with the space program and is involved in several high technology businesses, from the design of a new general aviation aircraft, to the creation of a neutron beam sensor to medical diagnostic equipment.
Among Colonel Lousma’s many awards and honors are the Johnson Space Center Certificate of Commendation (1970) and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal (1973); the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and the Navy Astronaut Wings (1974), the City of Chicago Gold Medal (1974), the Robert J. Collier Trophy for 1973 (1974), the Marine Corps Aviation Association’s Exceptional Achievement Award (1974), the Federation Aéronautique Internationale’s V. M. Komarov Diploma for 1973 (1974), the Dr. Robert H. Goddard Memorial Trophy for 1975 (1975), the AIAA Octave Chanute Award for 1975 (1975), the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1974 (1975), NASA’s Distinguished Service Medal (1982), the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1982), and the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award (1983)