Borman & Lovell Celebrate 90th Birthdays

Apollo 8 crew members William Anders, Frank Borman and Jim Lovell on the carrier after their mission. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Parabolic Arc would like to extend belated birthday wishes to Frank Borman and Jim Lovell, who both celebrated their 90th birthdays this month. Lovell’s birthday was Sunday, and Borman celebrated his latest trip around the sun on March 14.

The two nonagenarians, who were crew mates on Gemini 7 and Apollo 8, are the oldest of the surviving Apollo astronauts. The rest of their compatriots are all in the 80’s.

Borman and Lovell spent nearly 14 days aloft aboard Gemini 7 in December 1965. The flight proved that astronauts could survive trips to the moon and back. During the flight, the spacecraft rendezvoused and flew in formation with Gemini 6, which was piloted by Wally Schirra and Tom Stafford. The rendezvous was also a first for human spaceflight.

Borman and Lovell teamed up again in December 1968 for the first manned voyage to the moon. Along with Apollo 8 crew mate William Anders, the astronauts made 10 orbits above the lunar surface, paving the way for eventual moon landings.

The mission proved to be the last spaceflights for Borman and Anders. Lovell would go on to command the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission, which had to abort a landing in the Frau Mauro highlands due to an explosion in the service module. Lovell, Fred Haise and Jack Swigert used the lunar module as a lifeboat.

Borman and Lovell were not the only Apollo astronauts who celebrated another year on planet Earth. The others were:

  • March 15 — Alan Bean, Apollo 12 & Skylab 3 — 86
  • March 16 — Walt Cunningham, Apollo 7 — 86
  • March 17 — Ken Mattingly, Apollo 16 — 82.

The table below shows the Apollo crews who flew in the lunar, Skylab and Apollo-Soyuz programs. Although some astronauts died relatively young, many of them survived into their 80’s — a tribute to the superb conditioning required by NASA and the military services in which they served.

Of the 12 men to walk on the moon, five are still alive: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Bean (Apollo 12), David Scott (Apollo 15), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt (Apollo 17).

Apollo 1

Test command service module in Earth orbit; crew died in a flash fire that swept through the command module during a practice countdownVirgil “Gus” GrissomApril 3, 1926January 27, 1967d. 40
Edward WhiteOctober 14, 1930January 27, 1967d. 36
Roger ChaffeeFebruary 15, 1935January 27, 1967d. 31
Apollo 7
Oct. 11-22 1968
Test command service module in Earth orbitWally SchirraMarch 12, 1923May 3, 2007d. 84
Donn EiseleJune 23, 1930December 2, 1987d. 57
Walt CunninghamMarch 16, 193286
Apollo 8
Dec. 21-27 1968
First human voyage to the moon; 10 orbits above the lunar surfaceFrank BormanMarch 14, 192890
Jim LovellMarch 25, 192890
Bill AndersOctober 17, 193384
Apollo 9
March 3-13 1969
Test command service module and lunar module in Earth orbitJames A. McDivittJune 10, 192988
David R. ScottJune 6, 193285
Russell L. SchweickartOctober 25, 193582
Apollo 10
May 18-26 1969
Dress rehearsal for first human landing on the moon; lunar module flew within 50,000 feet of lunar surfaceTom StaffordSeptember 17, 193087
John YoungSeptember 24, 1930Jan. 5, 2018d. 87
Eugene CernanMarch 14, 1934Jan. 16, 2017d. 82
Apollo 11
July 16-24 1969
First manned moon landing on Sea of Tranquility; Armstrong and Aldrin spent more than two hours walking on the surfaceNeil ArmstrongAugust 5, 1930August 25, 2012d. 82
Buzz AldrinJanuary 20, 193088
Michael CollinsOctober 31, 193087
Apollo 12
Nov. 14-24 1969
Second manned landing on the moon; recovered part of Surveyor 3 landerCharles “Pete” ConradJune 2, 1930July 8, 1999d. 69
Alan BeanMarch 15, 193286
Dick GordonOctober 5, 1929Nov. 6, 2017d. 88
Apollo 13
April 11-17 1970
Landing in Fra Mauro aborted due to explosion in service module oxygen tankJim LovellMarch 25, 192890
Fred HaiseNovember 14, 193384
Jack SwigertAugust 30, 1931December 27, 1982d. 51
Apollo 14
Jan. 31 – Feb. 9, 1971
Exploration of the Fra Mauro formationAlan ShepardNovember 18, 1923July 21, 1998d. 74
Edgar MitchellSeptember 17, 1930February 4, 2016d. 85
Stu RoosaAugust 16, 1933December 12, 1994d. 61
Apollo 15
July 28 – Aug. 7, 1971
Exploration of Hadley Rille; first use of the lunar rover; Worden made first deep space walk to retrieve film from the service moduleDavid ScottJune 6, 193285
James IrwinMarch 17, 1930August 8, 1991d. 61
Al WordenFebruary 7, 193286
Apollo 16
April 16-27 1972
Exploration of Descartes Highlands; Young and Duke spent more than 20 hours walking and driving on the surfaceJohn W. YoungSeptember 24, 1930Jan. 5, 2018d. 87
Charles DukeOctober 3, 193582
Ken MattinglyMarch 17, 193682
Apollo 17
Dec. 7-19 1972
Final manned moon mission; Cernan and Schmitt spent 22 hours outside the lunar module exploring Taurus-Littrow highlandsEugene CernanMarch 14, 1934Jan. 16, 2017d. 82
Harrison “Jack” SchmittJuly 3, 193582
Ronald EvansNovember 10, 1933April 7, 1990d. 56
Skylab 2
May 25 – June 22 1973
First U.S. space station crew; set new space duration record of 28 days; during launch, Skylab damaged with one solar panel torn off, another trapped against the ship by debris; crew freed the solar panel and spread a parasol over area where micrometeorite/ heat shield had been torn off; astronauts completed many of planned experimentsPete ConradJune 2, 1930July 8, 1999d. 69
Joseph KerwinFebruary 19, 193286
Paul WeitzJuly 25, 1932October 22, 2017d. 85
Skylab 3
July 28 – Sept. 25 1973
Second U.S. space station crew set new space duration record of 59 days; conducted experiments on human body’s adaptation in space, observed sun using powerful space telescopes; placed second shield over parasol to protect stationAlan BeanMarch 15, 193286
Owen GarriottNovember 22, 193086
Jack LousmaFebruary 29, 193682
Skylab 4
Nov. 16, 1973 – Feb. 8, 1974

Third and final crew set new duration record of 84 days; continued experiments begun by first two crewsGerald CarrAugust 22, 193285
Edward GibsonNovember 8, 193681
William PogueJanuary 23, 1930March 3, 2014d. 84
Soyuz Test Project
July 15-24 1975

First joint docking of American and Soviet spacecraft in orbit; first and only spaceflight for Deke Slayton, one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts who had been grounded due to a heart irregularityTom StaffordSeptember 17, 193087
Vance BrandMay 9, 193186
Deke SlaytonMarch 1, 1924June 13, 1993d. 69

  • JS Initials

    Their birthdays fall on the same date as the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s death.
    It’s a mystery surrounding the last year of his life. Was Gagarin an alcoholic by then?
    Was he out of shape? Was the tragic Soyuz 1 spaceflight a year earlier supposed to take up
    Gagarin instead of Komarov? Was Gagarin training to go up in Soyuz 3 that summer, and dock with
    Soyuz 2 to use it as a ‘space tug’ to boost him into the Van Allen Radiation Belt?

  • ThomasLMatula

    Happy Birthday to both of these American heroes.

  • Bulldog

    Congratulations and Happy Birthday to both Col. Frank Borman and Capt. Jim Lovell!