Astronaut John Young, Who Flew In Space 6 Times, Dies At 87

Astronaut John Young, Who Flew In Space 6 Times, Dies At 87

Legendary astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight, has died, according to a statement from NASA.

The US agency said on Saturday that the former astronaut's death was due to complications following pneumonia. He was 87 years old. "We will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier", NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement. He flew the first Space Shuttle mission and had been to space multiple times in the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, the agency said in its tweet.

Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts. He flew the first space shuttle mission.

Young orbited the moon on Apollo 10 in May 1969 in preparation for the Apollo 11 landing that was to follow.

Young's fifth space mission was as commander of the inaugural flight of NASA's first space shuttle, Columbia, in 1981. Young flew two Gemini, two Apollo and two shuttle missions and considered the first shuttle flight the most unsafe. According to media reports, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich in his spacesuit, a move that didn't sit well with NASA staff in Houston who anxious about the crumbs.

Astronaut John Young, Who Flew In Space 6 Times, Dies At 87
Astronaut John Young, Who Flew In Space 6 Times, Dies At 87

"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight", Lightfoot said, adding, "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut". Three years later he was selected as a NASA astronaut.

Young was reassigned in 1987 as special assistant for engineering, operations and safety at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, a move he viewed as punishment for his outspokenness.

"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 retired at the end of 2004.

Young was born in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando.

From there, Young joined the Apollo program, where he was assigned to the Apollo 7 backup crew as the Command Module Pilot, along with astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan.

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