Jack Swigert was moved up from back up crew to main crew after Ken Mattingly got the measles. He was just as trained as the other guys but they werent a team. Everyone was a little sceptical about his skills because they had never flown with him and had had Mattingly as a pilot for a very long time. Swigert was doing a routine docking simulation when the people running it threw some engine failures at him without giving him a warning light, but he recuperated quickly and pulled off the manoeuvre flawlessly.
Coming off of this success and being accepted by your new crew mates most people would be on top of the world and not feel the need to practice that move again, but not Swigert, he noticed that he used a bit to much fuel and although thats not a horrible thing considering the situation, he insisted on practising again until he could do the manoeuvre with out any mistakes, no matter the problems. This kind of determination is only comparable to feats committed by his fellow astronauts like Ken Mattingly.
Ken Mattingly was kicked off of the original Apollo 13 mission because he had contracted the measles virus. After this he went home, disconnected his phone, turned off his t.v. and went to bed. John Young Goes to Mattinglys house to wake him up because they need him to come to NASA to create a boot sequence that can be used in the emergency on the shuttle. So Ken Mattingly, after being kicked off of the job of a lifetime because of measles that he didnt actually get, being hungover, and not getting much sleep, goes to NASA and spends hours upon hours on his back in a cramped simulator kept cold and dark to emulate the situation in the actual shuttle looking for the right sequence.
After many many failed attempts they finally find an ingenious solution, completely breaking the mold for all regular operations. Ken Mattingly got the boot sequence under 12 amperes, just the right amount to safely get the crew home. Mattingly wasnt on the space shuttle and yet he was one of the most important people in getting the crew home, this is because a shuttle launch only happens because of the determination of hundreds of people.
Some people often overlooked in space exploration are the people who designed the ships in the first place. Not the people who built it, or the people who flew it but the ladies and gentlemen who came up with the schematics first, the engineers. At one point in the movie the CO2 levels in the craft became so dangerously high that the crew could begin experiencing blackouts and brain damage. They needed a second air filter and didnt have a spare that would fit.
The engineers back on earth were told to ¦invent a way to put a square peg in a round hole. Rapidly.. They were given only the parts that would have been available on the shuttle; tape, plastic bags, a space suit, hosing, things like that, no real tools, no actual spare parts, but they did it. They made that filter fit and saved the lives of three men and the reputations of many others. These engineers are one of the primary reasons everyone survived that mission.
These men were given an impossible situation and told it had to be done, everyone of them not only stepped up to the plate but they hit the ball out of the park. Jack Swigert, Ken Mattingly, and the NASA engineers, they showed that sheer determination can lead to the achievement of any goals you have set for yourself. Without their determination the mission could easily have ended in three horrific and tragic deaths, but that was not the case and everyone involved will be forever grateful. Ron Howard, using the actions of these men, showed us the true meaning of determination, how anything can be done if you keep trying. Howard painted a beautiful picture of people simply doing what had to be done no matter how impossible the task. We should all look up to people like this.