Jack Swigert

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
John L. Swigert, Jr.
Jack Swigert- Apollo 13.jpg
Member-elect of the United States House of Representatives from
Colorado's 6th district
In office
November 2, 1982 – December 27, 1982
Succeeded by Daniel Schaefer
Personal details
Born August 30, 1931
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Died December 27, 1982(1982-12-27) (aged 51)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Nationality American
Political party Republican
Alma mater CU, B.S. 1953
RPI, M.S. 1965
UHart, MBA 1967
Occupation Fighter pilot, test pilot

John Leonard "Jack" Swigert, Jr. (August 30, 1931 – December 27, 1982) was a NASA astronaut, one of the 24 persons who have flown to the Moon.

Before joining NASA, Swigert was a test pilot. After leaving NASA, he was elected to the United States House of Representatives for Colorado's 6th congressional district, but died before being sworn in.


Early life and education[edit]

Swigert was born on August 30, 1931 and raised in Denver, Colorado. 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, 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.[1]

He was active in the Boy Scouts of America. He earned the rank of Second Class Scout.[2]

Flight experience[edit]

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.
John L. Swigert, Jr.
Jack Swigert.jpg
NASA Astronaut
Nationality American
Status Deceased
Born August 30, 1931
Denver, Colorado, U.S.
Died December 27, 1982(1982-12-27) (aged 51)
Washington D.C., U.S.
Other names
John Leonard Swigert, Jr.
Other occupation
Fighter pilot, test pilot
CU, B.S. 1953
RPI, M.S. 1965
UHart, MBA 1967
Time in space
5d 22h 54m 16s
Selection 1966 NASA Group 5
Missions Apollo 13
Mission insignia
Apollo 13-insignia.png
Retirement August, 1977
Awards Presidential Medal of Freedom

Swigert held a position as engineering test pilot for North American Aviation, Inc., before joining NASA. He was also an engineering test pilot for Pratt and Whitney from 1957 to 1964. He served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force from 1953 to 1956 and, upon graduation from the Pilot Training Program and Gunnery School at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. After completing his tour of active duty in the Air Force, he served as a jet fighter pilot with the Massachusetts Air National Guard from September 1957 to March 1960 and as a member of the Connecticut Air National Guard from April 1960 to October 1965.[3]

He eventually logged 7,200 hours flight, which includes more than 5,725 in jet aircraft.[4]

NASA career[edit]

After unsuccessfully applying for NASA's second and third astronaut selections,[5] Swigert was accepted into the 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.[5]

Apollo 13[edit]

Main article: 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. Incidentally, this made Swigert the first American bachelor astronaut to fly in space.

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".[6] Swigert, along with fellow astronauts Jim Lovell and Fred Haise, returned safely to Earth on April 17th after about 5 days and 23 hours in space, and received the Presidential Medal of Freedom later that year.

Swigert received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal.

Post-NASA career[edit]

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

Swigert finally resigned from NASA and the committee in August 1977, to enter politics. In 1979 he became Vice president of B.D.M. Corporation, Golden, Colorado.[7]


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. He was hospitalized at Yale University Hospital on December 19, and died of respiratory failure on December 27, eight days before the beginning of his Congressional term.[5] He is buried in Mount Olivet Cemetery in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.[8]


Swigert statue at Denver International Airport


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.[12]

Awards and honors[edit]

Presented the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1970 and the NASA Distinguished Service Medal; Co-recipient of the American Astronautical Society Flight Achievement Award for 1970, the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1971, and the AIAA Octave Chunute Award for 1966 (for his participation in demonstrating the Rogallo Wing as a feasible land landing system for returning space vehicles and astronauts); and recipient of Colorado University's Distinguished Alumnus Award in 1970, the City of New York Gold Medal in 1970, the City of Houston Medal for Valor in 1970, the City of Chicago Gold Medal in 1970; and the Antonian Gold Medal in 1972.[13]

John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration[edit]

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, Colo., the Space Foundation was founded in 1983 in part to honor the memory and accomplishments of Swigert. Recipients include:

Physical description[edit]

  • Weight: 180 lb (81 kg)
  • Height: 5 ft 11½ in (1.82 m)
  • Hair: Blond
  • Eyes: Blue[14]


  1. ^ Jack's education .jsc.nasa.gov
  2. ^ John L. Swigert, Jr. at scouting.org
  3. ^ http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/swigert-jl.html
  4. ^ http://www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/swigert-jl.html
  5. ^ a b c Chaikin, Andrew. A Man on the Moon. Penguin Books Ltd. ISBN 978-0-14-024146-4. 
  6. ^ "Jim Lovell's written account of the mission attributes the quote to Swigert". History.nasa.gov. 1970-04-11. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  7. ^ Jack's post-NASA experience .jsc.nasa.gov
  8. ^ "Find-a-grave". Retrieved 22 September 2013. 
  9. ^ Holmes, Charles W., Editor, Honoree Album of the Colorado Aviation Hall of Fame, The Colorado Aviation Historical Society, 1999, Audubon Media Corp., Audubon, IA.
  10. ^ "Fact Sheets". Visitthecapitol.gov. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  11. ^ "RPI Alumni Hall of Fame: John L. Swigert Jr". Rpi.edu. Retrieved 2012-09-14. 
  12. ^ Jack's memberships .jsc.nasa.gov
  13. ^ Jack's awards and honors .jsc.nasa.gov
  14. ^ Jack Swigert's physical description

External links[edit]