LANSING, Mich. — A former NASA took the stage at Lansing Community College Tuesday, bringing his out of this world experience to life for the crowd.
Colonel Jack Lousma was born in Grand Rapids and is a University of Michigan graduate. He joined NASA in 1966 and served with the agency for 17 years. During that time, he was a support crew member for Apollo 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 13. Then in 1973, he headed for space where he was part of the Skylab 2 team and spent 59 days in space, orbiting the Earth 858 times. In 1982, Lousma went to space again; this time, part of the third test flight of Space Shuttle Columbia, spending eight days orbiting the Earth 180 times.
Lousma retired from NASA in 1983 and then ran an unsuccessful bid for U.S. Senate against longtime Democratic Senator Carl Levin in 1984.
The astronaut has seen NASA evolve, and believes talks of privatizing NASA is part of that and will ensure the program continues. Lousma also agrees with the idea of a Space Force, that Vice President Mike Pence talked about in early August, as new, sixth branch of the military.
“They [China and Russia] have started to militarize space, and if we don’t, we’re going to be in a dangerous situation and we have to have a way to defend ourselves,” Lousma said. “I think that’s what the Space Force is all about and I think Trump’s idea to do that is right on target.”