• Post category:Apollo Missions
  • Reading time:2 mins read

Much have been heard and known about famous astronauts like Yuri Gagarin, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, Sally Ride and many more. Today let us know about two more astronauts who played an important role the in history of space exploration.

Alan B. Shepard Jr.:

Alan Shepard prepares for his historic flight on May 5, 1961
Alan Shepard prepares for his historic flight on May 5, 1961

In 1959, Alan Shepard was selected as one of 110 military test pilots to join NASA. As one of the seven Mercury astronauts, Shepard was selected to be the first to go up on May 5th, 1961. Known as the Freedom 7 mission, this flight placed him into a suborbital flight around Earth. Unfortunately, Alan was beaten into space by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin by only a few weeks, and hence became the first American to go into space.

Shepard went on to lead other missions, including the Apollo 14 mission – which was the third mission to land on the Moon. While on the lunar surface, he was photographed playing a round of golf and hit two balls across the surface.

James Lovell Jr.:

Original crew photo, (left to right) Jim Lovell, Thomas K. Mattingly, and Fred W. Haise.
Original crew photo, (left to right) Jim Lovell, Thomas K. Mattingly, and Fred W. Haise.

Lovell was born on March 25th, 1928 in Cleveland, Ohio. Like Shepard, he graduated from the US Naval Academy and served as a pilot before becoming one of the Mercury Seven. Over the course of his career, he flew several missions into space and served in multiple roles. The first was as the pilot of the Apollo 8 command module, which was the first spacecraft to enter lunar orbit.

He also served as backup commander during the Gemini 12 mission, which included a rendezvous with another manned spacecraft. However, he is most famous for his role as commander the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure enroute to the Moon but was brought back safely due to the efforts of her crew and the ground control team.

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