NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

US astronaut John Young dies at age 87: NASA

John Young, an astronaut who became the ninth person to walk on the moon has died.

Born in San Francisco in 1930, Young joined the US Navy in 1952. He was an aviator in the Korean War and remained in the Navy as a test pilot until joining the astronaut corps. He flew the first space shuttle mission. He was best known as the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission, taking Columbia into orbit in 1981. Young died age of 87.

Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts.

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. During that time, they performed rendezvous maneuvers with a pair of Agena target vehicles that were already in orbit. Bouncing along the lunar surface in a four-wheeled rover, he and Charlie Duke collected 200 pounds of rock specimens.

Young flew to the moon twice and landed on it once.

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After his return to Earth, the shuttle would become Young's next focus.

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. "Godspeed." When asked about the risk of flying on the space shuttle Columbia for the first time in 1981, Young responded "Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world, knowing they are going to light the bottom, and doesn't get a little anxious, does not fully understand the situation". He retired in 2004 having served as the chief of the astronaut office, responsible for crew selection. He lived in the suburbs of Houston (Texas, South), near the NASA Space Center.

In a statement, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that Young was one of the "early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space", who spent his entire life in the service to his country, and that he was "in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut'". He flew into space twice during NASA's Gemini program in the mid-1960s, twice on the Apollo lunar missions and twice on space shuttles in the 1980s.

"He was quite an asset to the space program", Apollo 13 commander Jim Lovell said, according to an interview with the Orlando Sentinel when Young retired in 2004.

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