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James A. McDivitt

James Alton McDivitt

1929-

James Alton McDivitt was born June 10, 1929 in Chicago, Illinois. As both an astronaut and a program manager for the NASA space program, he was a pioneer in the expansion of the horizons of space.

McDivitt graduated from high school in Kalamazoo and completed two years at Jackson Junior College before joining the Air Force in 1951. He flew 145 jet fighter missions in the Korean War before returning to Michigan to attend the University of Michigan. While an undergraduate there, he achieved a straight-A record to graduate first in his class of 607 engineering students in 1959.

He was then assigned to the Air Force Experimental Test Pilot School where he made the best record in the school's history. In 1961, he became the first graduate of the Air Force's Aerospace Research Pilot Course at Edwards Air Force Base. He was selected by NASA as an astronaut in 1962. He was the command pilot for Gemini IV, the 66 orbit, 4 day mission in 1965, and commanded the Apollo IX earth orbital flight in 1969.

McDivitt was then the Apollo Spacecraft program manager from 1969 until 1972, with overall management responsibility for Apollo 12 through 16. He retired from the Air Force in 1972 as a brigadier general.

He was executive vice president and director of Consumers Power Co. of Jackson, Michigan before becoming executive vice president and a member of the board of directors of Pullman, Inc. in Chicago. He joined Rockwell International as Vice President of Strategic Management in 1981 and was appointed senior Vice President of Government Operations in January, 1988.

His service decorations include two Distinguished Service medals, four distinguished flying crosses, five air medals, and the Republic of Korea Chung Moo Medal. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate of astronautical science by the University of Michigan, honorary doctor of science degrees by Seton Hall University and Miami University, and an honorary doctor of law degree by Eastern Michigan University.
He was enshrined on October 13, 1989 for his dedication to the advancement of space flight.

Smithsonian Institution Affiliations Program