Apollo 13 hero Ken Mattingly, who helped crew return safely house, dies at age 87

Apollo 13 hero Ken Mattingly, who helped crew return safely home, dies at age 87


Ken Mattingly, an astronaut who’s greatest remembered for his efforts on the bottom that helped convey the broken Apollo 13 spacecraft safely again to Earth, has died, NASA introduced. He was 87.

“We misplaced considered one of our nation’s heroes on Oct. 31,” NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson mentioned in a Thursday assertion.

Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II “was key to the success of our Apollo Program, and his shining persona will guarantee he’s remembered all through historical past,” Nelson mentioned.

NASA didn’t point out the place or how Mattingly died. Nonetheless, The New York Occasions reported that Mattingly died in Arlington, Virginia.

A former Navy pilot, Mattingly joined NASA in 1966. He helped with growth of the spacesuit and backpack for the Apollo moon missions, NASA mentioned.

Nonetheless, his personal first spaceflight solely got here in 1972 when he orbited the moon as pilot of the Apollo 16 command module, whereas two different crew members landed on the moon’s floor.

On the journey again to Earth, Mattingly spacewalked to gather movie cannisters with images he had snapped of the moon’s floor.

In later years, Mattingly commanded two area shuttle missions and retired from the company and the Navy as a rear admiral.

However his most dramatic mission was one which he by no means flew.

In 1970, Mattingly was presupposed to have joined the crew of Apollo 13, piloting the command module. However he was faraway from the mission a number of days earlier than launch after being uncovered to German measles.

He didn’t contract the sickness however was changed aboard the mission by John Swigert Jr.

A number of days into the mission, an oxygen tank on the spacecraft’s service module exploded, knocking out many of the energy and oxygen to the command module. The lunar touchdown was scrapped and NASA started frantic efforts to avoid wasting Swigert, James Lovell and Fred Haise.

Mattingly, who knew the spacecraft intimately, labored with engineers and others as they analyzed the state of affairs and scrambled to seek out options and go on directions to the crew.

The trio of astronauts finally crowded into the lander, which was designed for under two, and used it as a lifeboat for 4 days as Apollo 13 swung across the moon after which landed safely on Earth.

Mattingly “stayed behind and offered key real-time choices to efficiently convey house the wounded spacecraft and the crew,” NASA’s Nelson mentioned.

“One of many many classes out of all that is beginning on day one it was from the very first second, assume you’re going to succeed and don’t do something that will get in the best way,” Mattingly recalled in an oral historical past interview for NASA in 2001.

Apollo 13’s story was informed within the 1994 e book “Misplaced Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13,” co-authored by Lovell, and within the 1995 film “Apollo 13,” the place Gary Sinise performed Mattingly.

FILE - Apollo 16 astronauts, from left wearing white suits, Thomas Kenneth Mattingly, John Young and Charles Duke, pose for photographs by Navy Frogmen in rubber raft after leaving spaceship, left, in the Pacific Ocean on April 27, 1972. 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 Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2023, NASA announced. (AP Photo, File)

AP Picture, File

Apollo 16 astronauts, from left sporting white fits, Thomas Kenneth Mattingly, John Younger and Charles Duke, pose for images by Navy Frogmen in rubber raft after leaving spaceship, left, within the Pacific Ocean on April 27, 1972. (AP Picture, File)