Space Foundation Press Releases

Pluto New Horizons Exploration Team Earns 2016 John L. "Jack" Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration from Space Foundation

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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (Jan. 20, 2016) – A mission nearly 10 years in the making, New Horizons left Earth on Jan. 19, 2006. Speeding through the Solar System at more than 50,000 miles per hour, the spacecraft completed the first ever flyby of dwarf planet Pluto on July 14, 2015.

On the three billion mile journey, New Horizons came within 1.4 million miles of Jupiter, crossed the orbits of Saturn, Uranus and Neptune and successfully became the first manmade spacecraft to reach Pluto, coming within 7,750 miles of the surface and taking the first high-definition photos of the dwarf planet.

In recognition of this accomplishment, the Space Foundation will present the Pluto New Horizons Exploration Team with the 2016 John L. “Jack” Swigert, Jr., Award for Space Exploration.

“The world fell in love with Pluto’s heart, and the mission brought the curiosity of space exploration to the forefront of everyone’s minds,” said Space Foundation Chief Executive Officer Elliot Pulham. “The spacecraft spent the majority of the flight in hibernation, being awakened about 50 days a year for spacecraft and instrument checks. Data collection continues into 2016 making the Pluto New Horizon’s mission not only a success, but also an inspiration.”

The 2016 Swigert Award will be presented April 11 during the opening ceremony of the 32nd Space Symposium at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA. The ceremony is co-sponsored by Northrop Grumman, and the award is given annually by the Space Foundation to the person or organization that has made the most significant accomplishments in advancing the exploration of space during the previous year.

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.

Recent Swigert Award recipients:
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

About the Space Symposium
The Space Symposium is the annual gathering of all sectors of the global space community, to be held April 11 – 14 at The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs. Visit to see the agenda, and for secure online registration, meal tickets and secure lodging reservations.

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About the Space Foundation
Founded in 1983, the Space Foundation is the foremost advocate for all sectors of space, and is a global, nonprofit leader in space awareness activities, educational programs and major industry events, including the annual Space Symposium, in support of its mission “to advance space-related endeavors to inspire, enable and propel humanity.” Space Foundation World Headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., USA, has a public Discovery Center, including El Pomar Space Gallery, Northrop Grumman Science Center featuring Science On a Sphere® and the Lockheed Martin Space Education Center. The Space Foundation has a field office in Houston and conducts government affairs from its Washington, D.C., office. It publishes The Space Report: The Authoritative Guide to Global Space Activity, and through its Space CertificationTM and Space Technology Hall of Fame® programs, recognizes space-based innovations that have been adapted to improve life on Earth. Visit, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter, Google+, Flickr and YouTube, and read our e-newsletter Space Watch.