April 17, 2005

Apollo 13 Astronaut, Lovell, Donates Memorabilia

CHICAGO (AP) -- Former astronaut Jim Lovell, whose near-fatal trip to the moon was made famous in the movie "Apollo 13," has given a planetarium the handbook whose cardboard cover was used to save the space crew's lives.

Lovell donated several items from his career to the Adler Planetarium to mark the institution's 75th anniversary.

The gifts include pieces of memorabilia from the trip to the moon that turned into a race for survival after an oxygen tank exploded.

The handbook's cardboard cover was torn off and used in an air purifier to let Lovell and his fellow astronauts breathe. "If it hadn't worked, we would have been poisoned by our own exhalation," Lovell said on Wednesday.

Two other donated items would have been left on the moon's surface if the mission hadn't been aborted: a plaque listing the names of the astronauts and a small navigational telescope.

"I have been thinking for a long time about what is going to happen to this stuff when I am gone," said Lovell, who lives in suburban Lake Forest.

"I guess my kids could use them as doorstops. I finally decided I'd like to consolidate all of the artifacts for people who come to the Adler," he said.

The planetarium will also receive the two-man Gemini 12 spacecraft that Lovell flew with Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the first mission in which two spacecraft docked. That capsule will be at the planetarium next fall on long-term loan from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


On the Net:

Adler Planetarium: http://www.adlerplanetarium.org/