Ken Mattingly - Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot

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This is an official NASA portrait of Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot Thomas K. ("TK" or "Ken") Mattingly, II, Lt. Commander, United States Navy.

Mattingly was slated to fly the Apollo 13 mission as CMP (Command Module Pilot) until he was replaced, three days before launch, by Jack Swigert. 

NASA provides a brief biographical summary about him:

TK was born on March 17, 1936 in Chicago, Illinois. He was trained as an aeronautical engineer at Auburn University, receiving his Bachelor's Degree in 1958.

At the time of his selection as a member of the fifth group of astronauts, TK was a student at the USAF Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards AFB. He served as a member of the support crews for Apollo 8 and 11 and played an important role in the development of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack.

Although he was never officially named as a member of the Apollo 11 backup crew, when the original backup Command Module Pilot, Bill Anders, accepted a job at the White House and began to spend increasing amounts of time in Washington, Mattingly began to train in his stead and participated as backup CMP in most of the integrated (full-up) simulations run in the final months before the Apollo 11 launch.

He was selected as Command Module Pilot (CMP) for Apollo 13 but was removed from the crew three days prior to launch because of exposure to German measles. The backup CMP, Jack Swigert, took his place and Mattingly subsequently flew as CMP on Apollo 16.

From 1973 until 1978, Mattingly served as the head of the astronaut support team for the Shuttle program and then served as backup Commander for the second and third missions. In June 1982, Mattingly made his first Shuttle flight as Commander of the fourth mission (STS 4) and, then, in January 1985, commanded the 15th mission, STS-51C.

After leaving NASA, he served as Director, Space Sensor Systems, U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command; and later served as Director, Utilization and Operation, Grumman Space Station Program Support Division, Reston, Virginia.

Some years later, Mattingly gave a talk about how the movie, "Apollo 13," compared to the real-life mission (both on the ground and in space). He said that the film was true-to-life.

We can therefore conclude that Mattingly's exposure to measles—preventing him from taking his place in the spaceship— actually turned out to be a good thing. Why? Because he was instrumental in helping to create a work-around that aided his crewmates' successful return to Earth.

Mattingly's official NASA portrait, at the top of this page, was taken in December, 1969.  Click on the image for a better view.

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5199stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Jan 28, 2022

Media Credits

Image online, courtesy NASA.


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"Ken Mattingly - Apollo 13 Command Module Pilot" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Jan 28, 2022.
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