WASHINGTON — NASA will honor astronaut Thomas K. “Ken” Mattingly, II, with the presentation of an Ambassador of Exploration Award for his contributions to the U.S. space program. During a ceremony on Thursday, March 26, Mattingly will accept the award at the Samuel Ginn College of Engineering at Auburn University in Alabama and present it for display at the university.

NASA is giving the Ambassador of Exploration Award to the first generation of explorers in the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo space programs for realizing America’s goal of going to the moon. The award is a moon rock encased in Lucite, mounted for public display. The rock is part of the 842 pounds of lunar samples collected during six Apollo expeditions from 1969 to 1972.

Mattingly was born in Chicago and received his bachelor’s degree in aeronautical engineering from Auburn University in 1958. He was the command module pilot for the Apollo 16 mission. He also was designated command module pilot for the Apollo 13 flight, but he was removed from flight status 72 hours before the scheduled launch because of exposure to the German measles. Mattingly is one of a few Apollo astronauts who also flew aboard the space shuttle. He was the shuttle commander on missions STS-4 and STS 51-C. For biographical information about Mattingly, visit: http://www11.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/mattingly-tk.html

Beginning Wednesday, NASA Television will air a video file with highlights from Mattingly’s missions. For NASA TV downlink, schedule and streaming video information, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/ntv

For information about and pictures of the NASA Ambassador of Exploration Award, visit: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/imagegallery/AofEphotos.html

For more information about Auburn University, visit: http://www.auburn.edu