Given annually to recognize the most significant accomplishment in advancing the exploration of space during the previous year, the Space Foundation’s John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration will be presented in 2018 to the Cassini Mission team.
Cassini’s active mission of more than 20 years, and 4.9 billion miles traveled, provided a detailed understanding of the Saturn system, including its rings and moons. According to NASA: Cassini has revealed never-before-seen events that are changing our understanding of how planetary systems form. Data and images from the mission will be analyzed for years to come and are expected to result in new discoveries and understanding of our solar system.
The 2018 Swigert Award will be presented April 16 during the opening ceremony of the Space Foundation’s 34th Space Symposium at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA. The ceremony is co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman. See complete Symposium information at www.SpaceSymposium.org.
A joint endeavor of NASA, the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Italian Space Agency, Cassini launched on October 15, 1997, from Cape Canaveral. The mission was named for 17th Century astronomer Giovanni Cassini.
After flying by Venus and Jupiter, Cassini reached its destination in June of 2004. In 2005, the mission delivered the Huygens probe to Saturn’s moon Titan. After its primary mission, the tour was extended twice.
The spectacular finale of the mission occurred on September 5, 2017, and gained world-wide attention as the spacecraft, having expended most of its rocket propellant, was directed into the planet for destruction.
The Cassini mission provided a better understanding of Saturn, its rings and many moons and altered concepts regarding how planets form around stars.
The John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration honors astronaut Jack Swigert, a Colorado native who served with retired U.S. Navy Captain James A. Lovell, Jr., and Fred Haise on the legendary Apollo 13 lunar mission, which was aborted after the perilous rupture of an oxygen tank en route to the Moon.
In 1982, Swigert was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives, but died of cancer before taking the oath of office. The Space Foundation, founded in 1983 in part to honor Swigert's memory, created the Swigert Award in 2004 in tribute to his lasting legacy of space exploration.
The Swigert Award was last presented in 2016. Recent recipients have included:
- 2016 Pluto New Horizons Exploration Team
- 2015 Rosetta Comet Exploration Team
- 2013 NASA Mars Science Laboratory Mission Team
- 2012 NASA Kepler Mission
- 2010 The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) Mission Team
- 2009 NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander Team