In an all too distracted world, it is good to take time to honor a great man. Thomas Ken Mattingly, NASA astronaut, passed away this past Thursday. He was 87 years old.
He was a very accomplished man who was a former Navy Pilot and joined NASA in 1966. He was involved in spacesuit development for the Apollo Program. Mattingly was part of the Apollo 16 crew which flew to the moon in 1972. He did not walk on the surface but was in the command module as it orbited the moon.
During the space shuttle program, he commanded 2 missions and eventually retired from NASA. His rank upon retiring from the Navy was Rear Admiral.
LOS ANGELES — Ken Mattingly, an astronaut who is best remembered for his efforts on the ground that helped bring the damaged Apollo 13 spacecraft safely back to Earth, has died, NASA announced. He was 87.
“We lost one of our country’s heroes on Oct. 31,” NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a Thursday statement.
Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II “was key to the success of our Apollo Program, and his shining personality will ensure he is remembered throughout history,” Nelson said.
NASA didn’t mention where or how Mattingly died. However, The New York Times reported that Mattingly died in Arlington, Virginia.
Although he was very accomplished with his mission aboard Apollo 16, he is remembered greatly for helping to save the lives of the crew of Apollo 13 in 1970. He was originally scheduled to be on that mission but was grounded because he was exposed to measles which he did not end up actually getting.
He was replaced on that mission by John Swigert Jr. Mattingly knew the spacecraft well, so when an oxygen tank exploded and compromised the command module, he worked with engineers on the ground to help return the astronauts safely.
He was portrayed by Gary Sinise in the 1995 film Apollo 13 which was directed by Ron Howard.