• Jim Lovell, left, and his son Jay Lovell take a peak inside the Apollo 13 capsule Friday afternoon, August 21, 2015. This was the first time that Lovell's son had seen the capsule up close.

  • Jay Lovell, (left) and Jim Lovell marvel at the Apollo 13 capsule in the Cosmosphere August 21, 2015. This was the first time Mr. Lovell’s son had seen the capsule up close.

Odyssey sight brings back memories for commander's son

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Jay Lovell was at the Apollo 13 launch in 1970, but he considers Friday at the Cosmosphere the first time he ever saw the Odyssey command module from the mission, commanded by his father, James Lovell.

At the viewing site for the launch, 3 miles away from the launch pad, he couldn't really see details of the Saturn V rocket or its payload, he said. But when it was launched, he could see the flames, and hear and feel the rumble caused by the approximately 7.5 million pounds of thrust as it launched.

"The ground shakes," Lovell said Saturday. "You feel the vibration. You can feel the heat."

He said there was even an unexpected crackling sound that he could feel go through him.

"It brought back a lot of memories," Lovell said of seeing Odyssey up-close for the first time.

He was 15 years old during the mission, and fairly insulated from details of the things that went wrong with the mission.

"I was in military school," he said. "I was sound asleep when all this happened."

When the teacher in charge of his dorm woke him up that night, he worried he was in trouble for leaving a radio on. When the teacher explained what was happening and what was being done about it, Lovell trusted that his father would make it back safely.

"In my eyes, NASA could do no wrong," he said. "There was no fear of him not getting home."

He said he watched the mission splash down in the ocean on television at the school headmaster's house, and a couple of days later got plane tickets for a trip home to see his father.

Lovell said he was amazed to see how good of condition the Cosmosphere has Odyssey in, and he's glad they have it for that reason.

"I'm extremely impressed with the Cosmosphere," he said.