American astronaut Thomas Mattingly dies aged 87
Eva Deschamps / November 4, 2023
Nasa astronaut Thomas Mattingly died on Tuesday at the age of 87, the space agency announced on Thursday. The man had helped bring the crew of the ill-fated Apollo 13 mission back safely through his efforts from the ground control cell.
Thomas Mattingly - also known as Ken Mattingly - was scheduled to pilot the command module for the Apollo 13 flight, but was grounded 72 hours before launch after being exposed to rubella, according to Nasa boss Bill Nelson.
In April 1970, during the mission, an explosion paralyzes the spacecraft on its way to the Moon. Mattingly, who had not fallen ill, went to mission control and set up power-saving procedures so that the vehicle could re-enter the atmosphere, saving the lives of James Lovell, Jack Swigert and Fred Haise, the astronauts aboard the module.
The 1995 film "Apollo 13", starring Gary Sinise as Mattingly, popularized the eponymous mission. A savior in spite of himself, the astronaut began his career as a naval aviator before being selected to become an astronaut in 1966.
At NASA, he was Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 16 mission and Commander on two Space Shuttle missions. "Thomas' contributions have advanced our learning beyond space," said Nelson.