James Alton McDivitt
(Brig Gen, USAF, Ret.)
(1929 – )
Missions: Gemini 4, Apollo 9
Time in Space: 338 hours, 56 minutes
NASA astronaut James Alton “Jim” McDivitt was born on June 10, 1929, in Chicaco, Illinois. He joined the United States Air Force in 1951, flying 145 combat missions during the Korean War. McDivitt subsequently studied aeronautical engineering at the University of Michigan, graduating first in his class in 1959.
McDivitt began his career with NASA in September 1962 when he was selected to join the second group of astronauts, also known as the New Nine. He flew two space missions: as Command Pilot for Gemini 4 in June 1965—making McDivitt the first American astronaut to command his first spaceflight—and as Commander for Apollo 9 in March 1969, the first mission to complete an earth-orbital qualification and verification test of all Apollo spacecraft and flight operations necessary for a lunar landing. In total, McDivitt logged 338 hours and 56 minutes in space.
McDivitt remained with NASA following his space missions, becoming the Manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program in 1969 and Program Manager for Apollo 12 through 16. McDivitt turned down the opportunity to run the Space Shuttle program, retiring from NASA and the Air Force in 1972 to pursue a career in business. In 1981, he became Senior Vice President of Government Operations at Rockwell International.