NAME: John L. Swigert Jr.
BIRTHPLACE AND DATE: Swigert was born August 30, 1931, in Denver, Colorado.
EDUCATION: Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from University of Colorado in 1953. Master of Science in aerospace science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1965. Master of Business Administration from the University of Hartford in 1967.
EXPERIENCE: Swigert served with the Air Force from 1953 to 1956 as a fighter pilot in Japan and Korea. He then served with the Air National Guard in Massachusetts and Connecticut.
Swigert was selected by NASA as an astronaut in April 1966. He was named backup Command Module Pilot for Apollo 13. Just days before the mission he replaced the prime Command Module Pilot, Thomas K. Mattingly, following Mattingly's exposure to German measles. Swigert, Commander Jim Lovell Lunar Module Pilot Fred Haise were to have explored the moon's Fra Mauro highlands in April 1970, but en route, an oxygen tank in the Service Module exploded, resulting in loss of all Command Module oxygen and electric power. The crew used their still-attached Lunar Module as a lifeboat. Together with ground controllers, they made several manual manoeuvres using the Lunar Module engine and made it safely back to Earth after a harrowing trip.
Swigert resigned from NASA and between 1973 and 1977 he was executive director of the Committee on Science and Technology in the U.S. House of Representatives. In 1978, he ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate from Colorado. He then held positions with BDM Corporation and International Gold and Minerals, Ltd., before returning to politics.
On November 2, 1982, Swigert won a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives from Colorado's Sixth Congressional District with 64% of the vote. On December 27, 1982, a week before he would have taken his seat in Congress, Swigert died in Washington, DC, of complications from cancer. He was never married and had no children.
Apollo 13 (AS-508) was launched from Pad A, Launch Complex 39, KSC, at 2:13 p.m. EST April 11, with astronauts James A. Lovell, Jr., John L. Swigert, Jr., and Fred W. Haise, Jr., aboard. The spacecraft and S-IVB stage entered a parking orbit with a 185.5-kilometer apogee and a 181.5-kilometer perigee. At 3:48 p.m., onboard TV was begun for five and one-half minutes. At 4:54 p.m., an S-IVB burn placed the spacecraft on a translunar trajectory, after which the CSM separated from the S-IVB and LM Aquarius. (The crew had named lunar module 7 Aquarius and CSM 109 Odyssey.) The CSM then hard-docked with the LM. The S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system made an evasive maneuver after CSM/LM ejection from the S-IVB at 6:14 p.m. The docking and ejection maneuvers were televised during a 72-minute period in which interior and exterior views of the spacecraft were also shown.
At 8:13 p.m. EST a 217-second S-IVB auxiliary propulsion system burn aimed the S-IVB for a lunar target point so accurately that another burn was not required. The S-IVB/IU impacted the lunar surface at 8:10 p.m. EST on April 14 at a speed of 259 meters per second. Impact was 137.1 kilometers from the Apollo 12 seismometer. The seismic signal generated by the impact lasted 3 hours 20 minutes and was so strong that a ground command was necessary to reduce seismometer gain and keep the recording on the scale. The suprathermal ion detector experiment, also deployed by the Apollo 12 crew, recorded a jump in the number of ions from zero at the time of impact up to 2,500 shortly thereafter and then back to a zero count. Scientists theorized that ionization had been produced by 6,300 K to 10,300 K (6,000 degrees C to 10,000 degrees C) temperature generated by the impact or that particles had reached an altitude of 60 kilometers from the lunar surface and had been ionized by sunlight.
Meanwhile back in the CSM/LM, the crew had been performing the routine housekeeping duties associated with the period of the translunar coast. At 30:40 ground elapsed time a midcourse correction maneuver took the spacecraft off a free-return trajectory in order to control the arrival time at the moon. Ensuring proper lighting conditions at the landing site. The maneuver placed the spacecraft on the desired trajectory, on which the closest approach to the moon would be 114.9 kilometers.
At 10:08 p.m. EST April 13, the crew reported an undervoltage alarm on the CSM main bus B, rapid loss of pressure in SM oxygen tank No. 2, and dropping current in fuel cells 1 and 3 to a zero reading. The loss of oxygen and primary power in the service module required an immediate abort of the mission. The astronauts powered up the LM, powered down the CSM, and used the LM systems for power and life support. The first maneuver following the abort decision was made with the descent propulsion system to place the spacecraft back in a free-return trajectory around the moon. After the spacecraft swung around the moon, another maneuver reduced the coast time back to earth and moved the landing point from the Indian Ocean to the South Pacific.
About four hours before reentry on April 17, the service module was jettisoned and the crew took photographs and made visual observations of the damaged area. About one hour before splashdown the command module was powered up and the lunar module was jettisoned. Parachutes were deployed as planned, and the Odyssey landed in the mid-Pacific 6.4 kilometers from the recovery ship U.S.S. Iwo Jima at 1:07 p.m. EST April 17. The astronauts were picked up by helicopter and transported to the recovery ship less than an hour after splashdown.