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Ken Mattingly, Astronaut Who Helped Save Apollo 13 Crew, Dies at 87 Categorical Instances

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

“We misplaced one in every of our nation’s heroes on Oct. 31,” NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson mentioned in an announcement.

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 did not point out the place or how Mattingly died. Nonetheless, The New York Instances 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 purported to have joined the crew of Apollo 13, piloting the command module. However he was faraway from the mission just a few days earlier than launch after being uncovered to German measles.

He did not 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 a lot of the energy and oxygen to the command module. The lunar touchdown was scrapped and NASA started frantic efforts to save lots of Swigert, James Lovell and Fred Haise.

Mattingly, who knew the spacecraft intimately, labored with engineers and others as they analyzed the scenario and scrambled to seek out options and move on directions to the crew. The trio of astronauts ultimately 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 supplied key real-time selections to efficiently carry dwelling 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 way in which,” Mattingly recalled in an oral historical past interview for NASA in 2001.

Apollo 13’s story was instructed 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.

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