Astronaut John L. Swigert Jr.

John L. Swigert

Command Module Pilot

Astronaut John "Jack" Swigert was born in Denver, Colorado, on August 30th, 1931. He received a Bachelor’s in Mechanical Engineering in 1953, a Master’s in Aerospace Engineering in 1965, and a Master's in Business Administration in 1967. 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, he was assigned as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. Swigert then became an engineering test pilot for North American Aviation before joining NASA in 1966.

Swigert was assigned to the Apollo 13 backup crew, but then replaced prime crewman Thomas Mattingly as command module pilot—the substitution was announced 72 hours prior to launch of the mission following Mattingly's exposure to the German measles. Apollo 13 launched in 1970, and was programmed for ten days, however, the original flight plan was modified enroute to the moon due to a failure of the service module cryogenic oxygen system. Swigert, spacecraft commander James A. Lovell, and lunar module pilot Fred W. Haise worked closely with Houston ground controllers to convert their lunar module into a lifeboat. All three astronauts survived and were rescued after splashdown.