To be honest, we have been feeling a bit spacey lately, and we haven’t been able to pinpoint the exact number of astronauts who first launched their careers at UW-Madison. But of the 500-plus total astronauts who have rocketed into space, you can bet at least a few of them had Badger pride coursing through their spacesuits.
There’s no question, however, that the most famous astronaut with Badger ties has to be James (Jim) A. Lovell. He attended UW-Madison for two years in the early 1950s and continued on to the United States Naval Academy. In 1962, NASA selected Captain Lovell to be an astronaut. And while Lovell’s career is filled with historic spaceflights, he’s probably best known for safely returning his crew to earth after the aborted Apollo 13 moon mission — and uttering, “Houston, we’ve had a problem.”
An update from Abe:
Katharine Lowe and Maureen Lavin wrote to remind us of Laurel Blair Salton Clark. She completed her bachelor's degree and M.D. at UW-Madison and is originally from Wisconsin. She died in the Columbia Shuttle explosion in 2003.