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Ken Mattingly
Astronaut Thomas K. (Ken) Mattingly.jpg
Born March 17, 1936 (1936-03-17) (age 86)
Status Retired
Nationality American
Other names Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II
Alma mater Auburn University, B.S. 1958
Occupation Naval aviator, test pilot
Awards NASA Distinguished Service Medal.jpg
Space career
NASA Astronaut
Rank Rear admiral (upper half), USN
Time in space
21d 04h 34m
Selection 1966 NASA Group 5
Total EVAs
Total EVA time
1 hour 23 minutes
Missions Apollo 16, STS-4, STS-51-C
Mission insignia
Apollo-16-LOGO.png STS-4 patch.svg 51-c-patch.jpg
Retirement June 1985
Ken Mattingly poses at the launch pad
Mattingly poses at the launch pad

Thomas Kenneth Mattingly II (born March 17, 1936), (RADM, USN, Ret.), better known as Ken Mattingly, is a former American naval officer and aviator, aeronautical engineer, test pilot, Rear Admiral in the United States Navy and astronaut who flew on the Apollo 16, STS-4 and STS-51-C missions.

Mattingly had been scheduled to fly on Apollo 13, but three days prior to launch, he was held back and removed from the mission due to exposure to German measles (which he did not contract).

He later flew as Command Module Pilot for Apollo 16, making him one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon. Mattingly and his commander from Apollo 16, John Young, are the only human beings to have flown to the Moon and also a Space Shuttle orbital mission.

Early career and education

Born March 17, 1936, in Chicago, Illinois, Mattingly attended school in Hialeah, Florida, and was active in the Boy Scouts of America where he achieved its second highest rank, Life Scout. He graduated from Miami Edison High School in 1954, and went on to receive a Bachelor of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from Auburn University in 1958.

He joined the U.S. Navy as an Ensign in 1958 and received his aviator wings in 1960. He was then assigned to Attack Squadron Thirty-five (VA-35) at NAS Oceana, Virginia and flew A-1H Skyraider aircraft aboard the aircraft carrier USS Saratoga from 1960 to 1963. In July 1963, he served in Heavy Attack Squadron Eleven (VAH-11) at NAS Sanford, Florida, where he flew the A-3B Skywarrior aircraft for two years and deployed aboard USS Franklin D. Roosevelt.

In 1970, he married Elizabeth Ellen Dailey.

He has logged 7,200 hours of flight time—which includes 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.

NASA career

Mattingly was a student at the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB, California when NASA selected him as an astronaut in April 1966.

Apollo 13

The Original Apollo 13 Prime Crew - GPN-2000-001166
Mattingly (center) as part of the original prime crew for Apollo 13

At first, Mattingly was part of the support crew for Apollo 8, and then trained parallel with Bill Anders for Apollo 11 as backup Command Module Pilot. Mattingly's first prime assignment was to be the Command Module Pilot on the Apollo 13 mission. Three days prior to launch, he was removed from the mission due to exposure to German measles (which he never contracted) and was replaced by the backup CM pilot, Jack Swigert. As a result, he missed the dramatic in-flight explosion that crippled the spacecraft. However, Mattingly was involved in helping the crew solve the problem of power conservation during re-entry.

Apollo 16

Mattingly performs a deep-space EVA during Apollo 16

The swapout from Apollo 13 placed Mattingly on the crew that would fly Apollo 16 (April 16–27, 1972), the fifth manned lunar landing mission. The crew included John W. Young (Commander), Mattingly (Command Module Pilot), and Charles M. Duke Jr. (Lunar Module Pilot).

The mission assigned to Apollo 16 was to collect samples from the lunar highlands near the crater Descartes. While in lunar orbit the scientific instruments aboard the Command/Service Module Casper extended the photographic and geochemical mapping of a belt around the lunar equator. Twenty-six separate scientific experiments were conducted both in lunar orbit and during cislunar coast (between the earth and the moon). Major emphasis was placed on using man as an orbital observer, capitalizing on the human eye's unique capabilities and man's inherent curiosity.

During the return leg of the mission, Mattingly carried out an extravehicular activity (EVA) to retrieve film and data packages from the science bay on the side of the service module. Although the mission of Apollo 16 was terminated one day early, due to concern over several spacecraft malfunctions, all major objectives were accomplished through the ceaseless efforts of the mission support team and were made possible by the most rigorous pre-flight planning yet associated with an Apollo mission.

Space Shuttle flights

NASA salutes Reagans
Mattingly (foreground) with Henry Hartsfield salutes President Ronald Reagan, next to First Lady Nancy Reagan, after the STS-4 landing on July 4, 1982

Following his return to Earth, Mattingly served in astronaut managerial positions in the Space Shuttle development program.

Mattingly was named to command STS-4, the fourth and final orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida, on June 27, 1982 with Henry W. Hartsfield Jr., as the pilot. This 7-day mission was designed to further verify ascent and entry phases of shuttle missions; perform continued studies of the effects of long-term thermal extremes on the orbiter subsystems; and conduct a survey of orbiter-induced contamination on the orbiter payload bay.

Ronald and Nancy Reagan NASA 1982
President Ronald Reagan chats with NASA astronauts Henry Hartsfield and Thomas Mattingly on the runway following its Independence Day landing at Edwards Air Force Base on July 4, 1982

Additionally, the crew operated several scientific experiments located in the orbiter's cabin and in the payload bay. The crew is also credited with effecting an in-flight repair which enabled them to activate the first operational "Getaway Special" (composed of nine experiments that ranged from algae and duckweed growth in space to fruit fly and brine shrimp genetic studies).

STS-4 completed 112 orbits of the Earth before landing on a concrete runway at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 4, 1982. Mattingly and Hartsfield were greeted by President Ronald Reagan after the landing; Reagan recognized the pair, both graduates of Auburn University, as "you two sons of Auburn" in his welcoming speech.

STS-51-C, the first Space Shuttle Department of Defense mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center, Florida on January 24, 1985. The crew included Ken Mattingly (spacecraft commander), Loren Shriver (pilot), James Buchli and Ellison Onizuka (Mission Specialists), and Gary Payton (DOD Payload Specialist). STS-51-C performed its DOD mission which included deployment of a modified Inertial Upper Stage (IUS) vehicle from the Space Shuttle Discovery. Landing occurred on January 27, 1985.

Mattingly received the NASA Distinguished Service Medal in 1972.


Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly II
Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly II January 1972
Apollo 16 crew exits recovery helicopter aboard Ticonderoga
Apollo 16 crew exits recovery helicopter aboard Ticonderoga

In 1985, Mattingly retired from NASA and retired from the Navy in 1986 with the two-star rank of Rear admiral (upper half), and entered the private sector. He worked as a Director in Grumman's Space Station Support Division. He then headed the Atlas booster program for General Dynamics in San Diego, California. At Lockheed Martin he was Vice President in charge of the X-33 development program. He is currently working at Systems Planning and Analysis in Virginia.

Mattingly is a member of many organizations. He is an associate fellow, American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics; fellow, American Astronautical Society; and member, Society of Experimental Test Pilots, and the U.S. Naval Institute.

Awards and honors

Mattingly is a recipient of numerous awards. He was awarded the NASA Distinguished Service Medals (2); Johnson Space Center Certificate of Commendation (1970); JSC Group Achievement Award (1972); Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Navy Astronaut Wings; SETP Ivan C. Kincheloe Award (1972); Delta Tau Delta Achievement Award (1972); Auburn Alumni Engineers Council Outstanding Achievement Award (1972); AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1972; AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1973; Fédération Aéronautique Internationale awarded him the V. M. Komarov Diploma in 1973; Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1982).

He was one of 24 Apollo astronauts who were inducted into the U.S. Astronaut Hall of Fame in 1997.

In media

Mattingly was portrayed in the 1995 movie Apollo 13 by Gary Sinise. He was portrayed in the 1998 HBO miniseries From the Earth to the Moon by Željko Ivanek.

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