Jack Swigert

(April 1970) — These three astronauts are the prime crew of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo 13 lunar landing mission. Left to right, are James A. Lovell Jr., commander; John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot; and Fred W. Haise Jr., lunar module pilot. Apollo 13 will be the United States’ third lunar landing mission.

“Jack Swigert, the ruggedly handsome bachelor astronaut who flew to the moon aboard Apollo 13, took considerable ribbing about his being a Romeo. Friends said his favorite ploy was to invite young ladies up to his apartment to see, not his etchings, but what he claimed were his moon rocks.”

- Bob Ward, The Light Stuff

I think that every space book is required by law to have a “Jack Swigert Loves the Ladies” passage.

(16 April 1970) — This photograph of Earth was taken from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Apollo 13 spacecraft during its trans-Earth journey home. The most visible land mass includes southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. The peninsula of Baja California is clearly seen. Most of the land area is under heavy cloud cover. The Apollo 13 crew consisted of astronauts James A. Lovell Jr., commander; John L. Swigert Jr., command module pilot; and Fred W. Haise Jr., lunar module pilot.

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Houston, We Have a Problem - Apollo 13 (4/11) Movie CLIP (1995) HD (di movieclips)

THE ZEN ATTITUDE OF JACK SWIGERT IS NEARLY PAINFUL.

HALF OF THIS SPACESHIT HAS EXPLOSED AND HE’S LIKE 

“ops houston seems like we have a problem here”

OMG

This movie guys.

just watch it

(17 April 1970) — This view of the severely damaged Apollo 13 Service Module (SM) was photographed from the Lunar Module/Command Module (LM/CM) following SM jettisoning. An entire SM panel was blown away by the apparent explosion of oxygen tank number two. Two of the three fuel cells are visible at the forward portion of the opening. The hydrogen tanks are located in Sector 4 of the Apollo 13 SM. The apparent rupture of the oxygen tank caused the Apollo 13 crew members to use the LM as a “lifeboat.” The LM was jettisoned just prior to Earth re-entry by the CM.

Apollo 13 (1995)

There’s no such thing as a perfect movie. But there are many some nearly perfect movies out there, some you might not even realize are nearly perfect, until you find them playing on TV or you just have a sudden urge to re-watch them and you realize that there’s no way that the filmmakers involved could not have done a better job. Sometimes they seem almost accidentally pitch-perfect. There may be mistakes, sure, but they’re arbitrary things, and might just make you enjoy the film even more.

Apollo 13 is, for my money, a nearly perfect movie. It is one of the most nerve-wracking films I’ve ever watched–in fact, I’ve watched it dozens of times, and it never fails to keep me on the edge of my seat. I know how the movie is going to end. I know it by heart, I’ve watched it, I’ve read it, but I’m still completely gripped by it. It’s an amazingly constructed film, holding a tight and steady pace and supported by a stellar cast. The musical score by James Horner is pretty much icing on the cake, and stays with you long after the final credits end. 

What puts it above other, similar films like The Martian and Gravity is simply the fact that it actually happened. Three men (Jim Lovell, Fred Haise, and Jack Swigert) did almost die in outer space, but were saved by the ingenuity of their team on the ground and by their own cool heads. The director, Ron Howard, does take dramatic license several times throughout the film, allowing Lovell, Swigert, and Haise to lose their cool and fight amongst each other several times throughout their ordeal, something that the real astronauts never actually did. It was, I think, a judgement call on Howard’s part, and while I don’t think it was necessarily needed, it’s indicative of the standard procedure of Hollywood films at that time. I don’t think the in-fighting dooms the film; it’s easily accepted, something that people who aren’t astronauts/test pilots can relate to, even if it isn’t historically accurate. 

I think the film is still a treasure for aerospace buffs, in part because it treats the history and culture of NASA with a good amount of respect. It acknowledges the tragedy of Apollo 1, in which astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee were killed by piss-poor construction during a rehearsal launch in 1967. Apollo 1 casts a shadow over the story, constantly reminding one of the risk the Apollo 13 astronauts faced when their Service Module went to hell. Although it wasn’t mentioned in the film, the tragedy of Vladimir Komarov, the cosmonaut whose Soyuz 1 was crippled in space and who died when his capsule parachutes failed to open upon reentry (just a few weeks after the Apollo 1 astronauts were killed) must have hung over NASA’s heads as they were trying to bring Lovell, Swigert, and Haise home. Komarov had reportedly done everything right, despite a notoriously shoddy craft that everyone knew wouldn’t make it back in one piece; he survived a similar ordeal in space only to die after reentry. The subsequent tragedies of the Challenger and Columbia shuttle explosions (in 1986 and 2005, respectively) only bring the point home, of just how dangerous this endeavor is, and makes Apollo 13 all the more nerve-wracking.

There’s also a distinct sense of sadness throughout the film, of the victories that were denied either due to bad luck or bureaucracy or the fickle American interest for the space program. Ken Mattingly’s disappointment at being scrubbed from the team due to his risk of getting measles is as palpable as Jim Lovell’s heartbreak of never being able to walk on the moon. The embarrassment and anger Jim Lovell’s wife, Marilyn, feels when she learns that the American public shows no interest in her husband’s mission until there’s a danger of him being killed is almost painful. By that point, only less than a year after the U.S. was the first nation to land on the moon, the American public was already beginning to lose interest in space travel. There’s a certain admonishment permeating throughout the film–pointing out that American ingenuity got us so far, but American apathy held us back, continues to hold us back, when it comes to space travel. 

But I digress. What I mean to say, I suppose, in my roundabout way, is that Apollo 13 evokes a maelstrom of emotions, especially if one has some knowledge of the NASA missions and space travel. But that’s not a pre-requisite for enjoying the film. It stands on its own, fueled expertly by its sense of suspense and great performances by what seems like dozens of actors, including Tom Hanks, Bill Paxton, Kevin Bacon, Ed Harris, Gary Sinise, and Kathleen Quinlan, as well as character actors who you can probably instantly recognize, like Clint Howard, Tracy Reiner, and Chris Ellis. It’s definitely one of my nearly perfect movies. And I don’t think I’ll ever be able to watch it without bawling like a baby.

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Apollo 13 Photos Help Us Remember Astronauts’ Heroism Decades After Near-Tragedy

Apollo 13 was supposed to be NASA’s third lunar landing mission but an oxygen leak necessitated an emergency return home. 

Members of the original Apollo 13 crew, from left, commander Jim Lovell, command module pilot Ken Mattingly, and lunar module pilot Fred Haise pose in December 1969. Days before the mission, the crew was inadvertently exposed to German measles. Mattingly had no immunity to the virus and was replaced by backup command module pilot, Jack Swigert.

Some 56 hours into the Apollo 13 mission, oxygen tank No. 2 exploded, causing oxygen tank No. 1 to also fail. The command module’s normal supply of electricity, light, and water was lost as they flew more than 200,000 miles from Earth.

Swigert saw a warning light that accompanied the bang and radioed mission control: “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.”

A parade was held in the astronauts’ honor after their safe return.

See the full set here.

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A few days ago I promised I would post some “real-life astronaut crackfic.” More to follow on this item that I found, which is a very special film. But for now:

Here are screencaps of astronauts Jack Swigert and Tom Stafford. Together, both men comprise 8% of all humans in history who have traveled to the Moon. Both men are dressed in togas, and are cuddling on a couch. Stafford is wearing a woman’s wig. Swigert is sensuously feeding Stafford grapes, and is stroking Stafford’s knee.

Did I make good on my promise?

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MOONWATCH

The manual-winding Omega Speedmaster Professional was not originally designed for space exploration.  It was introduced in 1957 as a sports and racing chronograph, to complement Omega’s position as the official Olympic timekeeper.  High performance Chronographs became indispensable to pilots, race car drivers and Submariners, who relied heavily on precision timing to clock and calibrate fuel consumption, trajectory and other variables, for what was essentially blind travel.    On October 3 1962, astronaut Wally Schirra (above) took his personal Speedmaster aboard Mercury-Atlas 8. Later that same year, as the story goes, a number of different chronograph mechanical hand-wind wristwatches were purchased by NASA agents from Corrigan’s, a Houston jeweller, to evaluate their use for the space Program.  The watches were all subjected to tests under extreme conditions: prolonged cycles of high and low temperature, high and low pressure, humidity, shock, acceleration, vibration and acoustic noise.  The evaluation concluded in March 1965 with the selection of the Speedmaster, which survived the tests while remaining largely within 5 seconds per day rate. To accommodate the bulky space suit the watch used a long nylon strap secured with Velcro. On June 3 1965 Ed White (above) became the first American to spacewalk, effectively setting himself adrift in the zero gravity of space, whilst wearing his Omega Speedmaster during Gemini 4.   July 20, 1969, at 20:18 UTC the Apollo Lunar module put the first humans on the moon. Although Apollo 11 commander Neil Armstrong was first to set foot on the surface, he left his Speedmaster inside the Lunar Module as a backup because the LM’s electronic timer had malfunctioned. So Buzz Aldrin's Speedmaster became the first watch to be worn on the moon.  Incredibly, having travelled over half a million miles in space safely, Aldrin’s Speedmaster was lost during shipping when he sent it to the Smithsonian Institute. In 1970, after Apollo 13 was crippled by the rupture of a Service Module oxygen tank, Jack Swigert's Speedmaster (above) was famously used to accurately time the critical 14-second Mid-Course Correction 7 burn using the Lunar Module's Reaction Control System, which allowed for the crew’s safe return to Earth.
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The CO2 filter (made of the CM filter, sock, duct tape, and paper) made by Mission Control and the Apollo 13 crew was used to fix the CO2 problem on their Lunar Module Lifeboat. It was one of the greatest things invented by NASA due to its simplicity and effective use. It is now often used in business classes to demonstrate the effectiveness of working together

The Most Inspiring Group Survival Stories EVER

Uruguayan rugby team

On October 13, 1972, the Uruguayan Air Force Flight 571 flew over the Andes, carrying a raucous crew of rugby players, their friends, family and associates - all excited about their upcoming match in Chile. But tragic circumstances would stop them from attending that game, after a violent collision with an uncharted mountain peak transformed the team from sports stars to survivalists.

The accident - which split the plane, killing several onboard instantly - wasn’t the only hardship the crew faced. A subsequent avalanche made living conditions almost impossible, and rations were so low that group members were forced to eat the flesh of their dead fellow passengers in order to survive. Somehow, 16 members of the 45 strong crew managed to live long enough to be rescued two months after the crash.

Their story has served as an inspiration to anyone trying to get through difficult circumstances.

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