Apollo 13 Hero Ken Mattingly Passes Away at 87, how did he die?

Apollo 13 Hero Ken Mattingly Passes Away at 87, how did he die?

Apollo 13 Hero Ken Mattingly Passes Away at 87, how did he die?

Apollo 13 Hero Ken Mattingly Passes Away at 87, how did he die?

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Ken Mattingly, the astronaut who played a key role in bringing the troubled Apollo 13 spaceship back to Earth, has passed away at the age of 87, as confirmed by NASA.

“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.

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NASA didn’t provide details about where or how Mattingly passed away, but according to The New York Times, he died in Arlington, Virginia.

Mattingly, who was a former Navy pilot, joined NASA in 1966. He played a role in developing the spacesuits and backpacks used during the Apollo moon missions.

His first space journey happened in 1972 when he went around the moon as the pilot of the Apollo 16 command module, while two other astronauts landed on the moon.

On the way back to Earth, Mattingly did a spacewalk to collect film canisters containing photos he had taken of the moon’s surface.

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In later years, Mattingly led two space shuttle missions and retired from NASA and the Navy as a rear admiral.

But his most dramatic mission was one that he never flew.

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In 1970, Ken Mattingly was originally part of the Apollo 13 crew, set to pilot the command module. However, he had to be removed from the mission just days before it launched because he had been exposed to German measles, even though he didn’t get sick.

He was replaced by John Swigert Jr. on the mission. A few days into the mission, an oxygen tank in the spacecraft’s service module exploded, causing a loss of power and oxygen to the command module. This meant they had to cancel the moon landing and urgently work on saving the three astronauts: Swigert, James Lovell, and Fred Haise.

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Mattingly, who knew the spacecraft very well, collaborated with engineers and others to analyze the situation and find solutions. They also passed on instructions to the crew.

The three astronauts had to squeeze into the lunar lander, which was only designed for two people, and used it like a lifeboat for four days. They went around the moon and then safely returned to Earth.

Mattingly “stayed behind and provided key real-time decisions to successfully bring home the wounded spacecraft and the crew,” NASA’s Nelson said.

“One of the many lessons out of all this is starting on day one it was from the very first moment, assume you’re going to succeed and don’t do anything that gets in the way,” Mattingly recalled in an oral history interview for NASA in 2001.

Apollo 13’s story was told in the 1994 book “Lost Moon: The Perilous Voyage of Apollo 13,” co-authored by Lovell, and in the 1995 movie “Apollo 13,” where Gary Sinise played 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)

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