US Longest Serving Astronaut Dead at 87

John W. Young dies at 87 NASA pilot Six times to space Shuttle missions

Complications due to pneumonia led John Young to death. Image credit NASA

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

Young had flown to the moon twice and walked on its surface, according to NASA officials.

"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight", NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said in an emailed statement.

"John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space", he said. As part of those missions, Young also flew to the moon twice.

The retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield echoed that on Twitter, saying: "John Young is one of my heroes, an astronaut's astronaut, a fearless individual and a good friend".

He was particularly outspoken after the space shuttle Challenger exploded 73 seconds after liftoff on January 28, 1986, killing all seven crew members. Mr. His hard scrutiny continued well past shuttle Columbia's disintegration during re-entry in 2003. As to which moment was most memorable, he simply said, "I liked them all". Such practice bordered on heresy at NASA. Just minutes after landing on the lunar surface, he peered out the window and was at a loss for words: "Houston, uh, boy". It was the beginning of his 42-year career at NASA. "You want to be right".

"I've been very lucky, I think", Young said at his retirement from NASA in 2004.

Astronaut John Young, co-pilot of NASA's Gemini 3, inspecting his space suit.

Young became chief of NASA's Astronaut Office, supervising training of new recruits and helping to develop the shuttle, the first fixed-wing space vehicle designed for reuse. This was a complete end-to-end test of the Gemini spacecraft, during which Gus accomplished the first manual change of orbit altitude and plane and the first lifting reentry, and Young operated the first computer on a manned spacecraft.

Young became one of only 12 astronauts to set foot on the moon. "Personally, I would like to see [the U.S.] have a domestic program that we are leading up". It costs a lot of money, we're totally dependent on the Russians to do it. "They made it possible for the rest of us to do the nearly impossible". On his third flight, May 18-26, 1969, Young was Command Module Pilot of Apollo 10. Aboard the three-man Apollo he flew to the moon, including once landing on it.

And he commanded the first space shuttle flight, with pilot Bob Crippen, over three days in April 1981.

John W. Young dies at 87 NASA pilot Six times to space Shuttle missions

He never went to space again. Young pumped his fists in jubilation after emerging from Columbia on the California runway, following the two-day flight. While Young flew close formation on the second Agena, Mike Collins did an extravehicular transfer to retrieve a micro meteorite detector from that Agena. Additionally, he assisted the Center Director in providing advice and counsel on engineering, operational, and safety matters related to the Space Station, Shuttle upgrades, and advanced human Space Exploration Programs, back to the Moon and on to Mars.

Young grew up in Florida. He took pictures of the nose-diving crew cabin. "It's not extraordinary at all - anybody could have done it, I'm sure".

Young noted that even his friends at NASA considered him "doom and gloom", and that a shuttle launch "always scared me more than it thrilled me".

Yet Young maintained that NASA and the nation should accept an occasional spaceflight failure, saying it's worth the risk. NASA should be developing massive rockets to lift payloads to the moon to industrialize it, he said, and building space systems for detecting and deflecting comets or asteroids that could threaten Earth.

"The country needs that shuttle mighty bad", Young said. From May 1987 to February 1996, Young served as Special Assistant to the Director of JSC for Engineering, Operations, and Safety. Prior to joining NASA, Young served in the U.S. Navy, where he retired as a captain.

Young was born September 24, 1930 and grew up in Orlando, Fla.

He and Grissom had spoken about faulty wiring in an early model of the Apollo spacecraft but had not brought their concerns to NASA authorities, for fear of losing their jobs. Mr. He spent his last high school summer working on a surveying team.

After graduating from Georgia Tech in 1952, Mr. He then served three years at the Navy's Air Test Center before deciding to become an astronaut when President John F. Kennedy proposed sending Americans to the Moon in 1961.

Young received more than 100 major accolades in his lifetime, including the prestigious Congressional Space Medal of Honor in 1981.

"Those technologies over the long (or short) haul will save civilization on Earth", he warned in his NASA bio, nearly as a parting shot.

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