Space Foundation Press Releases

Space Foundation Honors NASA Kepler Mission with John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (March 7, 2012) – The NASA Kepler Mission has been selected as the 2012 recipient of the Space Foundation’s John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration. The award will be presented April 16 during the opening ceremony of the 28th National Space Symposium at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, Colo.

The NASA Kepler Mission is being recognized for the discovery of 61 confirmed extrasolar planets and over 2,300 planet candidates in the first 16 months of observations from May 2009 to September 2010.

About the Kepler Mission
The Kepler Mission findings contain well over 200 Earth-size planet candidates and more than 900 that are smaller than twice Earth-size. Of the 46 planet candidates found in the habitable zone, the region in the planetary system where liquid water could exist, ten of these candidates are near-Earth-size. The cumulative catalog includes: 246 Earth-size, 676 super Earth-size, 1,118 Neptune-size, 210 Jupiter-size and 71 candidates that are larger than twice the size of Jupiter.

The Mission’s planet confirmations include these firsts:

  • the first unquestionably rocky planet (Kepler-10b)
  • the first six-planet system (Kepler-11)
  • the first small planet in the habitable zone (Kepler-22b)
  • the first Earth-size planet discoveries (Kepler-20e&f)
  • the smallest exoplanets ever detected (KOI-961.01, KOI-961.02, KOI-961.03)
  • three worlds (Kepler-16b, Kepler-34b, Kepler-35b) that orbit around two stars, establishing a new class of planetary system

The Kepler Mission’s objective is to survey a portion of the galaxy to determine what fraction of stars host Earth-size and smaller planets in the habitable zone. The progression toward smaller planets at longer orbital periods suggests that Earth-size planets in the habitable zone are forthcoming if, indeed, such planets are abundant.

“With the rapid pace of space-related scientific study, we sometimes fail to realize just how extraordinary missions like Kepler are,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “They are fundamentally changing what we know about our universe and reshaping our understanding of planetary structure and formation,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham.

About the Award
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. People around the world watched as NASA overcame tremendous odds to return the crew safely to Earth. Before joining the Apollo program, Swigert was a combat pilot for the U.S. Air Force in Japan and Korea and an engineering test pilot for North American Aviation, Inc. and Pratt and Whitney. In 1982, he 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. Previous recipients include NASA’s Phoenix Mars Lander Team, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), The California Institute of Technology, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA’s Mars Exploration Team from JPL, President George W. Bush and the LCROSS mission. 

About the 28th National Space Symposium
Presented by the Space Foundation, the 28th National Space Symposium offers presentations and panels covering all aspects of space. The Symposium’s top allure to participants — of which there were more than 9,000 in 2011 — is as a venue for networking and conducting meaningful business.

The Symposium is offered in conjunction with Cyber 1.2, which examines the evolution of cyberspace. Separate registration is required for Cyber 1.2 and registration for both is available online at

Cyber 1.2 and 28th National Space Symposium Co-Sponsors
Confirmed co-sponsors include: a.i. solutionsAIAA; Analytical Graphics, Inc. (AGI); ARES CorporationArianespace, Inc.; ATKBall Aerospace & Technologies Corp.; Blue Ridge Networks; The Boeing Company; Booz Allen Hamilton; Cisco Systems, Inc.; Colorado Space Business Roundtable; Colorado Space Coalition; Defense Daily’s Cyber Security SummitDyneticsEuroconsultFluorGMV USAGeneral Dynamics; Global VSAT Forum; Government Executive; ITT Exelis; Intelsat General CorporationInternational Space University (ISU); ISPCSLockheed Martin; Maui Economic Development Board (MEDB); Moog; National Space Grant College and Fellowship Program; Northrop GrummanParadigm Secure CommunicationsPratt & Whitney Rocketdyne; RaytheonSAIC; SES Government Solutions; Sherman & Howard L.L.C.; Space Generation Advisory Council; Space Systems/Loral; SpaceXSpincraft; Stellar Solutions; The Greater Colorado Springs Chamber and EDCUnited Launch Alliance (ULA). Official media partners include Aviation WeekSatNews Publishers and Space News. Sponsorship information can be found at:

About the Space Foundation
The foremost advocate for the space industry and an expert in all aspects of space, the Space Foundation is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness, educational programs that bring space into the classroom and major industry events, including the National Space Symposium, all in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.” The Space Foundation publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity and provides three indexes that track daily performance of the space industry. Through its Space Certification and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, the Space Foundation recognizes space-based technologies and innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Colorado Springs, the Space Foundation conducts research and analysis and government affairs activities from its Washington, D.C., office and has a field office in Houston, Texas. For more information, visit Follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, and read about the latest space news and Space Foundation activities in Space Watch