After earning a Master of Science Degree in Aerospace Science from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and a Master of Business Administration Degree from Hartford College, he was accepted into the NASA Apollo program.
Swigert was one of three astronauts aboard the Apollo 13 moon mission, which was launched on April 11 1970. The mission was the third lunar landing attempt, but was aborted after the rupture of an oxygen tank on the spacecraft's service module. Swigert and fellow astronauts Jim Lovell, and Fred Haise, returned safely to Earth on April 17 after approximately 5 days and 23 hours in space.
He later became staff director of the Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives. Elected to Colorado's newly created Sixth Congressional District in 1982, he died of cancer before taking office.