Apollo Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly II Departs at 87

NASA Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly II Portrait

NASA portrait of astronaut Thomas Ok. Mattingly II. Credit score: NASA

Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II, retired United States Navy Rear Admiral and distinguished NASA astronaut, handed away on October 31, 2023, on the age of 87. Recognized affectionately as TK, Mattingly’s profession was marked by his heroic contributions to the U.S. house program and his notable function within the historic Apollo missions.

Born on March 17, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, TK Mattingly’s ardour for aviation and house exploration took flight early in his life. He went on to obtain his wings in 1960 after becoming a member of the U.S. Navy, the place he served with distinction. His excellence as a pilot and his eager mind led him to NASA, the place he joined the astronaut class of 1966.

All through his storied profession, Mattingly was concerned in key points of the Apollo program. Earlier than he journeyed into house, he labored tirelessly behind the scenes, contributing to the event of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack. He served because the command module pilot for Apollo 16, the place his ability and resolve had been very important to the mission’s success. Mattingly additional left his mark because the spacecraft commander for house shuttle missions STS-4 and STS 51-C, illustrating the flexibility and management that grew to become his hallmark.

Apollo 16 Astronauts in Apollo Command Module Mission Simulator

Astronaut Thomas Ok. Mattingly II (proper foreground), command module pilot of the Apollo 16 lunar touchdown mission, participates in extravehicular exercise (EVA) coaching in Constructing 5 on the Manned Spacecraft Heart (MSC). Credit score: NASA

Maybe one of the vital moments of Mattingly’s profession got here in the course of the Apollo 13 mission. Though he was grounded attributable to publicity to rubella, Mattingly performed a vital function within the protected return of his fellow astronauts, showcasing his unwavering dedication to this system and his colleagues.

TK Mattingly’s influence prolonged past his technical contributions. His eloquence and introspection offered a window into the profound experiences of house journey. He as soon as shared his awe of the cosmos, saying, “I had this very palpable concern that if I noticed an excessive amount of, I couldn’t bear in mind. It was simply so spectacular.”

Astronauts Thomas K. Mattingly II and Henry W. Hartsfield Jr. STS-4

Astronauts Thomas Ok. Mattingly II (left) and Henry W. Hartsfield Jr., STS-4 commander and pilot, respectively, get in some coaching time within the movement base Shuttle Mission Simulator (SMS) on the Johnson Area Heart’s Mission Simulations and Coaching Facility. Credit score: NASA

His decorations included the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, and quite a few different awards that testified to his distinctive service. Mattingly was not simply an astronaut; he was an explorer at coronary heart, who braved the huge unknown for the betterment of humanity.

Mattingly is survived by his household, who shared and supported his ardour for exploration. His legacy will proceed to encourage future generations of explorers who look to the celebrities and dream of the chances that lie inside the cosmos.

As we mourn the lack of this extraordinary particular person, we additionally rejoice his outstanding life—a life that encapsulated the spirit of journey and the dedication to pushing the boundaries of human achievement. Advert Astra, Rear Adm. Thomas Ok. Mattingly II, might your closing journey be as wondrous as these you undertook among the many stars.

The next is a press release from NASA Administrator Invoice Nelson on the passing of former NASA astronaut Rear Adm. (ret.) Thomas Ok. (TK) Mattingly II.

“We misplaced one in all our nation’s heroes on October 31 NASA astronaut TK Mattingly was key to the success of our Apollo Program, and his shining persona will guarantee he’s remembered all through historical past.

“Starting his profession with the U.S. Navy, TK acquired his wings in 1960 and flew numerous plane throughout a number of assignments. As soon as he joined the Air Pressure Aerospace Analysis Pilot College as a pupil, NASA selected him to be a part of the astronaut class in 1966. Earlier than flying in house, he aided the Apollo Program working because the astronaut assist crew and took management within the growth of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack.

“His unparalleled ability as a pilot aided us when he took on the function of command module pilot for Apollo 16 and spacecraft commander for house shuttle missions STS-4 and STS 51-C. The dedication to innovation and resilience towards opposition made TK a wonderful determine to embody our mission and our nation’s admiration.

“Maybe his most dramatic function at NASA was after publicity to rubella simply earlier than the launch of Apollo 13. He stayed behind and offered key real-time choices to efficiently convey house the wounded spacecraft and the crew of Apollo 13 – NASA astronauts James Lovell, Jack Swigert, and Fred Haise.

“TK’s contributions have allowed for developments in our studying past that of house. He described his expertise in orbit by saying, ‘I had this very palpable concern that if I noticed an excessive amount of, I couldn’t bear in mind. It was simply so spectacular.’ He considered the universe’s vastness as an never-ending discussion board of prospects. As a pacesetter in exploratory missions, TK shall be remembered for braving the unknown for the sake of our nation’s future.”

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