Jack Swigert


August 30, 1931 - December 28, 1982

Born on August 30, 1931, in Denver, Colorado
BS in mechanical engineering from University of Colorado
MS in aerospace science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Master of Business Administration from Hartford College

About the Man

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 with the 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 military services, he served as a jet fighter pilot with 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.

He logged 7,200 hours flight-which includes more than 5,725 in jet aircraft. Mr. Swigert was one of the 19 astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crew for the Apollo 7 mission.

About the Spaceflight

Apollo 13


April 11-17, 1970

Astronauts Lovell, Haise and Swigert, lifted off aboard Apollo 13, on April 11, 1970. The target site for the spacecraft was a spot on the Moon called the Fra Mauro Formation. While in Earth's orbit over the Pacific Ocean, a rocket fired, sending the craft on its translunar path.

Less than two days later, on April 13, 205,000 miles from Earth, an oxygen tank exploded in the SM of the Apollo 13 spacecraft. Loss of oxygen and electrical power forced the crew of Apollo 13 to abort the planned lunar landing. The crew had to change its course, swing around the Moon, and head back to Earth. Accomplishing this feat was not as simple as it might sound. The crew had to overcome many obstacles before they would be out of danger.

Detecting key stars was the sole means of determining the spacecraft's position, or attitude. Shortly after the explosion, Lovell saw a mass of particles surrounding the spacecraft that looked like stars. Therefore, navigating the spacecraft was difficult for the astronauts.

The crew needed to align the Lunar Excursion Module's guidance system with that of the Command Module's, while it still had enough power.

To conserve power in the CM needed for reentry into the Earth's atmosphere, the crew shut down all unnecessary systems and moved into the LEM. Once inside the LEM, they had discovered that another problem needed their immediate attention.

The system for removing carbon dioxide from the LEM was not functioning properly. The LEM was progressively accumulating dangerous levels of carbon dioxide. Ground crews in Houston came up with a temporary air purifier that the crew could assemble, using materials aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft.

Houston gave the astronauts detailed instructions for constructing the air purifier. The crew literally had to fit a square peg into a round hole. The air purifier worked, and the amount of carbon dioxide in the LEM, stayed below hazardous levels.

To reenter the Earth's atmosphere, the Apollo 13 spacecraft had to follow a definite course. To follow that course, the astronauts needed to find a focal point to use as a guide. The corridor for reentry into Earth's atmosphere was extremely narrow. Under normal circumstances, it would not have been a problem.

However, with conditions on the Apollo 13 spacecraft being what they were, moments that were more anxious lay ahead for the astronauts. If the craft came in too low, it would burn up in the atmosphere. If it came in too high, it would bounce off the Earth's atmosphere and be thrown back out into space.

As the world watched, prayed, and waited, the crew of Apollo 13 splashed down on April 17, 1970. The astronauts were seriously dehydrated and extremely weak, but they had made it back home.

Flight Duration: Five days, Twenty-two hours, and Fifty-four minutes


View of the damaged service module from Apollo 13 craft

In completing his first space flight, Mr. Swigert logged a total of 142 hours, 54 minutes. Mr. 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.

Mr. Swigert 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. In November 1982 he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives. Sadly, Jack Swigert died on December 28, 1982, before he had a chance to serve.


Click on the mission patch to read about the historic flight of Apollo 13 in more detail


The Original Seven
Honoring America's First Astronauts

NASA's 2nd Group of Astronauts
A Second Group is Chosen

NASA's 3rd Group of Astronauts
Another Group Is Needed

NASA's 4th Group of Astronauts
Eureka! NASA finds its 4th group!

NASA's 5th Group of Astronauts
Pilot Astronauts

  


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