Apollo 16 Astronaut Thomas K. Mattingly Dies At 87

(Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images)

Mariane Angela Entertainment And News Reporter
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Thomas K. Mattingly passed away at the age of 87, NASA announced Thursday.

Mattingly made significant contributions during the Apollo 16 mission to the moon, where he served as the command module pilot. He also played a crucial role in the Apollo 13 mission but he was removed from the crew due to exposure to German measles, narrowly avoiding a tragedy, according to CBS News.

“We lost one of our country’s heroes on Oct. 31. NASA astronaut TK Mattingly was key to the success of our Apollo Program, and his shining personality will ensure he is remembered throughout history,” NASA said following his death.

Mattingly’s career began with the U.S. Navy in 1958, eventually earning his pilot wings two years later. Following his selection as one of the 19 astronauts in NASA’s 1966 class, he contributed to the success of the Apollo 8 and 11 missions as a member of the astronaut support crew. Mattingly played a pivotal role in the development and testing of the Apollo spacesuit and backpack, the outlet noted. (RELATED: Last Remaining Apollo 7 Astronaut Dead At 90)

Mattingly also served as the spacecraft commander for two space shuttle missions, accumulating 504 hours in space in 1982 and 1985, CBS News reported.