What's the Worst Place to Lose a Wedding Ring?

On the second day of an 11-day mission to the Moon aboard Apollo 16, Command Module pilot Ken Mattingly lost his wedding ring. “It just floated off somewhere, and none of us could find it,” said Lunar Module pilot Charles Duke. The three Apollo 16 astronauts searched the spacecraft thoroughly, without any luck. However, on Day 9 of the mission, after Duke had piloted the Lunar Module to the Moon and back, Duke saw the ring drift out of the hatch during a spacewalk.

Duke grabbed for it but missed; he figured it was the last they would see of the ring. But it bounced off the back of Mattingly’s helmet instead, and began drifting back towards Duke. This time the astronaut snared it, and later reunited Mattingly with his wedding ring.

Lost and found in space:

  • Apollo 16 and the ring were flying through space at 3,000 feet per second (914 m per second), but without wind resistance, as Duke put it, things just “move along together.”

  • Mattingly had been scheduled to be part of the Apollo 13 crew. He was replaced three days before launch when it was discovered that he had been exposed to German measles.

  • Mattingly later commanded two space shuttle flights -- the final orbital test flight of Columbia in 1982, and the first Department of Defense mission, launched in 1985.

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Discuss this Article

Post 1

I would not call it the worst place to lose a wedding ring, maybe the most unusual, or if you count finding it, perhaps the best place to lose a wedding ring. Inside a space capsule, on the way to the Moon, where is the darned thing going to go?

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