Jack Swigert (John Leonard Swigert)

Jack Swigert

After unsuccessfully applying for NASA’s second and third astronaut selections, Jack 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. Jack 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. Jack Swigert received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal. Jack 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.

Jack 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, Jack 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.


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  • August, 30, 1931
  • USA
  • Denver, Colorado


  • December, 27, 1982
  • USA
  • Washington D.C.


  • Mount Olivet Cemetery
  • Wheat Ridge, Colorado
  • USA

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