Astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon twice, dies

07 January, 2018, 06:11 | Author: Devin Moran
  • Young left with Robert Crippen flew Columbia on STS-1 the Shuttle program’s maiden flight in 1981

Astronaut John Young, a pioneer of the U.S. space program with six spacewalks and a landing on the moon, died at the age of 87, NASA announced Saturday.

Young, a former Navy pilot, was part of the second group of astronauts the space agency hired, brought aboard in 1962 to add to the original Mercury Seven who'd been selected three years earlier. When one of the flight instructors objected to media going in with a camera, Young stopped, looked at the instructor, and said "I flew this, I wrote the manual, and that's that".

"He is the astronaut's astronaut, a hero among heroes who fly in space". Young was also on the first Space Shuttle mission in 1981. He was the only person to fly on all three types of programs.

"If they have a hero, that hero is John Young", fellow astronaut Robert L. Crippen said in 2004.

"Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", Robert Lightfoot, NASA administrator, said in a statement.

In April 1972, aboard Apollo 16, Young became the ninth member of the exclusive club of moon walkers. He and another astronaut, Charles Duke, drove a vehicle 16 miles across the lunar surface, collecting more than 200 pounds of soil samples and rocks. However, that was just one of a series of achievements. It's not like being in zero gravity, you know. "You've just got to hang in there". Along with fellow astronaut Gus Grissom, he was the pilot for Gemini 3 on March 23rd, 1965, the first crewed mission of the program.


It was on this mission that Young pulled his sandwich stunt, which did not make Nasa brass happy but certainly pleased Grissom, the recipient of the snack.

Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Mr Young maintained Nasa should be developing massive rockets to lift payloads to the moon to industrialise it, he said, and building space systems for detecting and deflecting comets or asteroids that could threaten Earth.

Young's sixth flight was as Spacecraft Commander of STS-9, the first Spacelab mission, November 28-December 8, 1983, with Pilot Brewster Shaw, Mission Specialists Bob Parker and Owen Garriott, and Payload Specialists Byron Lichtenberg of the US and Ulf Merbold of West Germany.

On Apollo 10, in May 1969, Nasa performed what it called "a full dress rehearsal" for landing men on the moon two months later. Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan were also on this mission which orbited the Moon, completed a lunar rendezvous, and tracked proposed lunar landing sites. He walked on the Moon in 1972, and piloted the first space shuttle flight, STS 1, Columbia, in 1981. Young vowed never to stay silent again. In his autobiography, he said he felt responsible for the loss of the shuttles Columbia and Challenger because his crews were on board.

"John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family".

John Watts Young was born September 24, 1930, in San Francisco and grew up mostly in Orlando. He became interested early on in aviation and earned an aeronautical engineering degree from Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952.

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