NASA astronaut Thomas Mattingly, who helped recover the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission with his efforts from the ground control cell, died Tuesday at the age of 87, announced Thursday space agency
While scheduled to pilot the command module for the Apollo 13 flight, Thomas Mattingly, also known as Ken Mattingly, was grounded 72 hours before launch after being exposed to rubella, he said Bill Nelson, the head of NASA.
In April 1970, during the mission, an explosion paralyzed the spacecraft en route to the Moon. Mattingly, who did not become ill, went to Mission Control and developed energy-saving procedures so the vehicle could re-enter the atmosphere, saving the lives of astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise on board the module.
The film “Apollo 13”, released in 1995 and in which Gary Sinise plays Mattingly, popularized the mission of the same name.
A savior in his own right, the astronaut began his career as a pilot in naval aviation before being selected to become an astronaut in 1966.
At NASA, he was the command module pilot for the Apollo 16 mission and the captain of two space shuttle missions.
“Thomas’ contributions have advanced our learning beyond space,” Nelson said.