John Young, Nasa astronaut who walked on the moon, dies aged 87

Saul Bowman
January 7, 2018

He was the first person to fly in space six times from earth, and seven times counting his lunar liftoff in the Gemini, Apollo & Space Shuttle programs.

NASA announced earlier today that Young passed away at the age of 87 due to complications from pneumonia. He was 87 years old.

"NASA and the world have lost a pioneer".

Young was a man of many firsts: the only astronaut to fly in the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs (and the first to command a shuttle flight); and the first to fly into space six times.

"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight", acting Nasa administrator Robert Lightfoot said.

Young's first time in space came in 1965 with the Gemini 3 mission that took him and astronaut Gus Grissom into Earth orbit in the first two-person US space jaunt.

He also orbited the Moon in Apollo 10 in 1969 and landed there in 1972 as Commander of the Apollo 16 mission.

John Young, Nasa astronaut who walked on the moon, dies aged 87

Young's fifth space mission was as commander of the inaugural flight of NASA's first space shuttle, Columbia, in 1981.

Young retired from NASA in 2004 and lived in El Lago, Texas with his wife Susy.

Ten years later, he was selected to join NASA and in 1965 he made he made his first trip to space with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3. "You were one of my heroes as an astronaut and explorer and your passion for space will be missed".

Young, described in a NASA tweet as "our most experienced astronaut", retired in 2004 after 42 years with the US space agency. A memo he had sent three weeks earlier, leaked to the media after the tragedy, criticised Nasa for compromising protection to meet launch schedules.

"He would go into meetings with the specialists for a particular system and he would say in this kind of country-boy way, 'Well, you know, I don't understand much about the such and such but what gets me is.' and then he would proceed to ask just a completely penetrating technical question that would just, you know, flatten these people", said Chaikin.

He was born in 1930 and grew up in Orlando, Florida. He later served as Special Assistant to the Director of Johnson Space Center for Engineering, Operations, and Safety. He eventually became a Navy fighter and test pilot.

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