Thomas “Ken” Mattingly was born in Chicago, Illinois on March 17, 1936. After his family moved to Florida, he attended elementary and secondary schools there, graduating from Miami’s Edison High School. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at Auburn University in 1958, then entered the Navy. Mattingly attended the Air Force Aerospace Research Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, California and earned his Navy pilot’s wings in 1960. He was assigned to VA-35 and flew AIH aircraft aboard the USS Saratoga for three years. In July 1963, he was transferred to VAH-II and deployed aboard the USS Franklin D. Roosevelt where he flew the A3B aircraft until 1965. He has logged 7,200 hours of flight time, including 5,000 hours in jet aircraft.
Ken Mattingly was one of the nineteen astronauts selected by NASA in April 1966. He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 8 and 11 missions and was the astronaut representative in development and testing of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack. He was the designated Command Module pilot for the Apollo 13 flight but was removed from flight status 72 hours prior to the scheduled launch due to exposure to the German measles.
Mattingly first entered space in 1972 as Command Module pilot of Apollo 16, the fifth manned lunar landing. He was also Spacecraft Commander for the final orbital test flight of the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-4) in 1982, and Commander of STS-51C Discovery in 1985.
The Saturn V carrying Apollo 16 lifted off from Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida on April 16, 1972, with Mattingly, John W. Young (Spacecraft Commander) and Charles M. Duke, Jr. (Lunar Module pilot) aboard. From April 20 to 23, Young and Duke descended to the lunar surface for over 71 hours while Mattingly orbited overhead in the Command Module Casper making an extended photographic and geochemical mapping of a belt around the lunar equator. After the astronauts rendezvoused with Mattingly it was discovered that a faulty engine on Casper had failed to fire. The module was taken around the far side of the Moon where the engine finally fired. It had the desired effect and the astronauts re-established radio contact, and made a safe return to Earth, landing in the Atlantic Ocean on April 27, 1972.
From January 1973 to March 1978, Ken Mattingly worked as head of astronaut office support to the STS (Shuttle Transportation System) program. He was next assigned as a technical assistant for the flight test to the Manager of the Orbital Flight Test Program. From December 1979 to April 1981, he headed the astronaut office ascent/entry group then served as backup Commander for STS-2 and STS-3, Columbia’s second and third test flights.
Mattingly was Spacecraft Commander for the fourth and final orbital test flight of the Shuttle Columbia (STS-4), which launched from KSC on June 27, 1982. He was accompanied by Pilot Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr. on this seven-day mission 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. STS-4 ended with a safe landing at Edwards Air Force Base, California, on July 4, 1982.
From June 1983, through May 1984, Mattingly served as Head of the Astronaut Office Department of Defense (DOD) Support Group. His third and final mission was as Spacecraft Commander on STS-51C Discovery, the first Space Shuttle DOD mission, launched from KSC on January 24, 1985. STS-51C performed its classified tasks, which included deployment of a modified Inertial Upper Stage vehicle before landing at Edwards on January 27, 1985.
Ken Mattingly has logged 504 hours in space, including 73 minutes of EVA (extravehicular activity) during Apollo 16. He resigned from NASA in 1985, and for the next year was Chief of NAVSPACECOM before retiring at the rank of Rear Admiral, U.S.N. Since then he was Director of Utilization and Operations at Grumman Space Station Office, and then Director of X-33-Program with Lockheed-Martin. Until September 1999, Admiral Mattingly was Chairman, Universal Space Network, Universal Space Lines, Inc. He then headed the Atlas booster program for General Dynamics, Inc. in San Diego, California.
In his distinguished career Admiral Mattingly has received many awards, including the Department of Defense Distinguished Service Medal (1982); two NASA’s Distinguished Service Medals; the JSC Certificate of Commendation (1970); the JSC Group Achievement Award (1972); the Navy Distinguished Service Medal; Navy Astronaut Wings; the SETP Ivan C. Kincheloe Award (1972); the AAS Flight Achievement Award for 1972; the AIAA Haley Astronautics Award for 1973; and in 1973 the Federation Aéronautique Internationale’s V. M. Komarov Diploma.