NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

US astronaut John Young dies at age 87: NASA

He spent three lunar nights on the surface and drove more than 25km in a lunar rover. Together, they orbited Earth three times, testing thrusters that allowed the crew to maneuver in space, and was later reprimanded for smuggling a corn beef sandwich for the ride.

He died Friday following complications from pneumonia, according to a statement from the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The Apollo 16 mission in April 1972, his fourth space flight, took Young to the lunar surface.

While Young retired from NASA in 2004, he remained a constant figure at the agency, Young remained at NASA until 2004, when he retired at the age of 74.

Young became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the USA space program. Young had been due to command a space shuttle flight in 1986 but it was cancelled after the explosion of the shuttle Challenger earlier that year.

Chaikin says Young's NASA career up to that point - culminating with a moon landing - had been impressive.


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-man USA space jaunt. If you look at the inevitable consequences and you look at our technologies that we need to make it, you'd come to the same conclusion, and you know, it's doesn't take a lot of thinking, but somebody ought to be anxious about it. Nasa later rebuked him for the stunt. "You've just got to hang in there".

NASA later rebuked Young for the antics, which generated criticism from lawmakers and the media, but his career did not suffer.

Young commanded the Gemini 10 mission in July 1966 and in May 1969 served as command module pilot on Apollo 10, flying all the way to the Moon with crewmates Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan. He helped develop the training protocols for the crews that would fly the space shuttle, and was named Command Pilot for the program's maiden flight with Space Shuttle Columbia in April 1981, spending two days in space. The first person to go to space six times, seven if you count his lunar liftoff.

He never went to space again. He ended up as the only person to fly on space shuttle, Apollo and Gemini missions.

Young earned a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta in 1952. In 1962, NASA selected him as part of Astronaut Group 2, the second batch of pilots that included Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad, Jim Lovell, James McDivitt, Elliot See, Thomas Strafford, and Ed White.

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