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Jack Swigert
NASA Astronaut, Pilot

Jack Swigert

Jack Swigert
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro NASA Astronaut, Pilot
A.K.A. John Leonard "Jack" Swigert, Jr.'''
Was Military officer Soldier Politician Officer Astronaut Aviator
From United States of America
Field Military Science Politics
Gender male
Birth 30 August 1931, Denver
Death 27 December 1982, Washington, D.C. (aged 51 years)
The details (from wikipedia)


John Leonard "Jack" Swigert Jr. (August 30, 1931 – December 27, 1982) was an American test pilot, mechanical and aerospace engineer, United States Air Force pilot, and NASA astronaut, one of the 24 people who have flown to the Moon.
Before joining NASA in 1966, Swigert was a civilian test pilot and fighter pilot in the Air National Guard. After leaving NASA, he was elected to Congress from Colorado's new 6th district, but died before being sworn in.

Early life and education

Born in Denver, Colorado, with parents John Leonard Swigert Sr. (1903–1973) and Virginia Swigert (1906–1993). Swigert's father was an ophthalmologist. At the age of 14, he became fascinated by aviation. While he would have been content just watching planes take off from nearby Combs Field, young Jack became determined to do more than be a spectator. He took on a newspaper route to earn money for flying lessons, and by age 16 he was a licensed private pilot. He attended Blessed Sacrament School, Regis Jesuit High School, and East High School, from which he graduated in 1949.

Swigert received a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Colorado in 1953, where he also played football for the Buffaloes. He later earned a Master of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (Hartford campus) in 1965, and a Master of Business Administration degree from the University of Hartford in 1967; and was presented an Honorary Doctorate of Science degree from American International College in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Laws degree from Western State University in 1970, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Western Michigan University in 1970.

His recreational interests included golf, handball, bowling, skiing, swimming, and basketball. His hobbies included photography.

He was a member of the Boy Scouts of America and attained the rank of Second Class Scout.

Flight experience

Swigert, at right, with the "mailbox" rig improvised to adapt the Apollo 13 Command Module's square carbon dioxide scrubber cartridges to fit the Lunar Module, which took a round cartridge

Following his graduation from Colorado in 1953, Swigert joined the U.S. Air Force. Upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, he was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. In the latter nation, he experienced his first narrow escape from death. According to the New York Times, "His plane crashed into a radar unit on a Korean airstrip and burst into flames." He walked away from the accident with minor injuries.

After completing his tour of active duty in the Air Force, he served as a jet fighter pilot with the Massachusetts (1957–1960) and Connecticut Air National Guard (1960–1965). Swigert held a position as engineering test pilot for North American Aviation before joining NASA. He was previously an engineering test pilot for Pratt & Whitney, from 1957 to 1964. He logged over 7,200 hours in flight, with more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.

NASA career

After unsuccessfully applying for NASA's second and third astronaut selections, Swigert was accepted into the NASA Astronaut Corps as part of NASA Astronaut Group 5 in April 1966. Swigert became a specialist on the Apollo Command Module: he was one of the few astronauts who requested to be command module pilots.

Apollo 13

Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the ill-fated Apollo 13 moon mission launched April 11, 1970. Originally part of the backup crew for the mission, he was assigned to the mission three days before launch, replacing astronaut Ken Mattingly. The prime crew had been exposed to German Measles (the rubella virus) and, because Mattingly had no immunity to the disease, NASA did not want to risk his falling ill during critical phases of the flight.

The mission was the third lunar-landing attempt, but was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank in the spacecraft's service module. Swigert was the astronaut who made the famous dramatic announcement, "Houston, we've had a problem here". The statement was then repeated by Commander of the flight Jim Lovell. Swigert, along with fellow astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, returned safely to Earth on April 17 after about 5 days and 23 hours, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom later that year.

Swigert received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Apollo-Soyuz Test Project

Swigert was slated to be the command module pilot for the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, but was later removed from the crew rotation due to his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp incident.

Post-NASA career

Swigert took a leave of absence from NASA in April 1973 to become executive director of the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives.

Swigert eventually left NASA and the committee in August 1977, to enter politics. In 1979, he became vice president of B.D.M. Corporation, Golden, Colorado. In 1981, Swigert left BDM to join International Gold and Minerals Limited as vice president for financial and corporate affairs.

In February 1982, Swigert left International Gold and Minerals Limited to run for U.S. Congress. On November 2, 1982, Swigert easily won the seat in the state's new 6th congressional district with 64% of the popular vote.


In 1982, during his political campaign, Swigert developed a malignant tumor in his right nasal passage. He underwent surgery, but the cancer spread to his bone marrow and lungs. Seven weeks after the election, he was airlifted on December 19 from his home in Littleton to Georgetown University Hospital in Washington, D.C., and died of respiratory failure at its Lombardi Cancer Center on December 27, eight days before the beginning of his congressional term. He died at the age of 51. He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.


Swigert was a member of numerous organizations. He was a fellow of the American Astronautical Society; associate fellow of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; and member of the Quiet Birdmen, Phi Gamma Delta, Pi Tau Sigma, and Sigma Tau.

Awards and honors

Jack Swigert
  • American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Octave Chanute Award for 1966 (for his participation in demonstrating the Rogallo Wing as a feasible land landing system for returning space vehicles and astronauts)
  • Presidential Medal of Freedom, 1970
  • NASA Distinguished Service Medal
  • American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award, 1970
  • City of New York City Gold Medal, 1970
  • City of Houston Medal for Valor, 1970
  • City of Chicago Gold Medal in 1970
  • University of Colorado-Boulder's Distinguished Engineering Alumnus Award in 1971
  • AIAA Haley Astronautics Award, 1971
  • Antonian Gold Medal, 1972.


  • In 1983, Swigert was inducted into the International Space Hall of Fame.
  • In 1988, Jack Swigert was nominated and inducted into the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame.
  • In 1995, Swigert was portrayed by Kevin Bacon in Ron Howard's film Apollo 13.
  • In 1997, a statue of Swigert made by George and Mark Lundeen was placed on display in the U.S. Capitol Building which as of December 2008 is on display in Emancipation Hall in the United States Capitol Visitor Center. A duplicate statue is currently on display at Denver International Airport.
  • In 1997, Jack Swigert was inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame.
  • In September 2003, John L. Swigert Jr. was elected to the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Alumni Hall of Fame.
  • On August 18, 2009, the Space Foundation and Colorado Springs District 11 partnered together to open the Jack Swigert Aerospace Academy.

John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration

In 2004, the Space Foundation launched the John L. "Jack" Swigert Jr. Award for Space Exploration, which is presented annually to an individual, group or organization that has made a significant contribution to space exploration. Based in Colorado Springs, Colorado, the Space Foundation was founded in 1983 in part to honor the memory and accomplishments of Swigert. Recipients include:

  • 2004 President George W. Bush
  • 2005 NASA's Mars Exploration Team from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2006 NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • 2007 The California Institute of Technology
  • 2008 Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
  • 2009 NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Team
  • 2010 The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Mission Team
  • 2011 No award given
  • 2012 NASA Kepler Mission
  • 2013 NASA Mars Science Laboratory Mission Team
  • 2014 No award given
  • 2015 Rosetta Comet Exploration Team
  • 2016 New Horizons Exploration Team

Physical description

  • Weight: 180 lb (82 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 11½ in (1.82 m)
  • Hair: Blond
  • Eyes: Blue

The contents of this page are sourced from Wikipedia article. The contents are available under the CC BY-SA 4.0 license.
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