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#1
Old 09-16-2005, 10:44 AM
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What did Apollo astronaut Jack Swigert do wrong?

Swigert was, of course, one of the heroes of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission (he was played by Kevin Bacon in the movie). He was later elected to Congress, but died of bone cancer in December 1982 before being sworn in.

From Wikipedia.org:

Swigert was originally suggested as the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project's Command Module Pilot, but was removed as punishment for his role in the postage-stamp scandal following the Apollo 15 mission [q.v.]. Swigert was not involved in the stamp deal, but in the investigation that followed the scandal he initially denied having any involvement in similar schemes. When evidence against him started to build up he confessed to Deke Slayton, and was consequently considered to be undesirable from a public relations viewpoint.

In what "similar scheme" was Swigert involved?
#2
Old 09-16-2005, 11:09 AM
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It seems that Swigert took a 'sizeable number' of stamped covers with him on Apollo 13 and later profited from their sale.

More info here.
#3
Old 09-16-2005, 01:56 PM
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Well, Swigert still managed to get elected to the House of Representatives, although he passed away before he could take office.
#4
Old 09-16-2005, 02:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BobT
Well, Swigert still managed to get elected to the House of Representatives, although he passed away before he could take office.
Wow, ironically like flying all the way to the moon in order to land there, but not being able to.
#5
Old 09-16-2005, 02:11 PM
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That's a darned shame, as Swigert was probably the most qualified CM pilot NASA had. Unlike the greenhorn Kevin Bacon portrayed, Swigert had written many of the CM procedures. IIRC, Lovell had once said they were lucky that Swigert had been there.
#6
Old 09-16-2005, 03:08 PM
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Wow, is he any relation to D. D. Harriman?
#7
Old 09-16-2005, 03:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maus Magill
That's a darned shame, as Swigert was probably the most qualified CM pilot NASA had. Unlike the greenhorn Kevin Bacon portrayed, Swigert had written many of the CM procedures. IIRC, Lovell had once said they were lucky that Swigert had been there.
I didn't really get the impression that Swigert was portrayed as a greenhorn Apollo 13 as that he'd been an 11th hour replacement for Ken Mattingly (who later went on to become one of the senior pilots in the STS Program) and thus wasn't quite as current and drilled at the time. Nonetheless, nothing he did contributed to the CM failure on Oddessy and certainly kept his cool during the two (not one, as shown in the final movie, though the shooting script did in fact indicate both firings) erratic course modifications using the LM engine.

Swigert was kind of a dark horse as far as the Apollo Project Office was concerned, as he was a bachelor in a highly publicized program that tried to emphasis the wholesome nature of their mostly married with children pilots. (Never mind the various emotional and substance abuse problems several of the astronauts contended with in real life...just like everybody else.) But there's no question that he was an asset to the Program, and to his crewmates on Oddessy in particular.

BTW, none of the actors in the film looked much like the astronauts they portrayed. Lovell actually looks more like a very tall Kevin Costner, and was reputed to be pretty soft-spoken. The film made great strides toward a realistic portrayal of the incident and the special effects, but they did pump up a few things for dramatic impact. That's Hollywood for ya.

As far as the OP's question...Swigert got called out on doing what many of the astronauts, including Gus Grissom, Pete Conrad, Rich Gordon, and many others had been doing for years with tacit approval from the Program Office. Swigert took it on the chin because he failed to be apologetic for it (nor should he have been).

I don't know if this is the actual origin of the idea for the astronauts, but Robert Heinlein's novella The Man Who Sold The Moon has its financier arranging for the maiden flight to be certified as a post office so that the pilot can cancel stamps and bring them back for sale as a way of recooping the costs of the flight.

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