Original Space Shuttle commander John Young dies

Posted January 07, 2018

USA astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon in 1972 and was the only person to fly with three NASA space programs, has died aged 87. His career was filled with firsts: he was the first to fly in space six times. Spanning three generations of spaceflight, he went on to fly in space six times. Just minutes after landing on the lunar surface, he peered out the window and was at a loss for words: "Houston, uh, boy".

Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts. "We will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier".

That mission in 1981 was the first time NASA sent a vehicle into space with people on board without a prior unmanned launch. "His career included the test pilot's dream of two "first flights" in a new spacecraft - with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, and as Commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission, which some have called "the boldest test flight in history", Lightfoot added in his statement. On his record-setting sixth and last spaceflight, when he flew the first Spacelab module into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle, he both avoided a mid-flight disaster and landed while an auxiliary power unit was on fire. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him", NASA said. But he was also described as a savvy engineer and a "test pilot's test pilot".

Original Space Shuttle commander John Young dies
Original Space Shuttle commander John Young dies

"If anybody deserves the title of legend it would be John Young", said Andrew Chaikin, an author who has written extensively on NASA.

While in the navy, Young set world records for the fastest ascension from a standing start in an F-4 Phantom II jet.

"I got a telegram from the chief of naval operations", Young said in his understated way, "asking me not to do anymore". "Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane".