James Arthur Lovell Jr. (born March 25, 1928) is an American retired astronaut, naval aviator, test pilot and mechanical engineer. In 1968, as command module pilot of Apollo 8, he became, with Frank Borman and William Anders, one of the first three astronauts to fly to and orbit the Moon. He then commanded the Apollo 13 lunar mission in 1970 which, after a critical failure en route, circled the Moon and returned safely to Earth.
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- We learned a lot about the Moon, but what we really learned was about the Earth. The fact that just from the distance of the Moon you can put your thumb up and you can hide the Earth behind your thumb. Everything that you've ever known, your loved ones, your business, the problems of the Earth itself-all behind your thumb. And how insignificant we really all are, but then how fortunate we are to have this body and to be able to enjoy loving here amongst the beauty of the Earth itself.
- You have to remember we brought back a picture of the Earth as it is 240,000 miles away. And the fact is, it gives you a different perspective of the Earth when you see it as three-dimensional between the sun and the moon, and you begin to realize how small and how significant the body is. (...) When I put my thumb up to the window I could completely hide it, and then I realized that behind my thumb that I'm hiding this Earth, and there are about 6 billion people that are all striving to live there.(...) You have to really kind of think about our own existence here in the universe, (...) You realize that people often say, 'I hope to go to heaven when I die.' In reality, if you think about it, you go to heaven when you're born.