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Happy 91st Birthday to Astronaut Jack Swigert!

Happy birthday to command module pilot for Apollo 13, John “Jack” Leonard Swigert Jr.! Jack would have been 91 years old today. (1931-1982) 

Jack Swigert was born on August 30, 1931, in Denver, Colorado. Swigert graduated from East High School in Denver in 1949. After graduating, he attended the University of Colorado, earning a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering. He continued his education, receiving a Master of Science in Aerospace Science, and a Master of Business Administration.

Jack Swigert was part of NASA’s Astronaut Group 5, which was announced in April 1966. Swigert’s piloting experience was vast; he logged “7,200 hours of flight- which includes more than 5,725 in jet aircraft,” according to his NASA biography.

Once at NASA, Swigert supported the Apollo 7 mission in 1968. After Apollo 7, Swigert was assigned to the backup crew for Apollo 13, along with astronauts John Young and Charlie Duke. In a weird twist of fate, Ken Mattingly, the original command module pilot for Apollo 13, was exposed to the German Measles and was removed from the mission.

Jack Swigert replaced Ken Mattingly as command module pilot for Apollo 13 just days before launch. NASA held a press conference on April 10, 1970, to announce the crew change. Swigert’s experience with the Command Module systems put him in an excellent place to replace Mattingly for the mission. With the crew swap complete, Swigert flew on Apollo 13, becoming one of the 24 people to have traveled to Earth’s Moon.

Swigert retired from NASA in 1973 and became active in politics. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, but he died before he could take office. Swigert passed away on December 28, 1982, from a battle with bone cancer.

Image: NASA
Caption: Cosmosphere Volunteer, John Mulnix.