Alumnus and American Hero John Young Dies at Age 87

Image NASA Charles M. Duke Jr

"Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission".

LEGENDARY astronaut John Young has died at the age of 87.

Following the Apollo program, he joined the nascent Space Shuttle program, becoming Chief of the Space Shuttle Branch of the Astronaut Office in 1973. During that time, he amassed more than 15,000 flying hours (with 9,200 in T-38s!) and 835 hours in space.

"Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", declared NASA in a statement released following Young's passing. Young was the first person to orbit the moon solo in the Command Module (nicknamed Charlie Brown), while the other two were aboard the lunar lander (nicknamed Snoopy).

On the Apollo 16 mission, Young landed the "Orion" lunar module on the moon in April 1972 with Charles Duke for almost three days as Thomas "Ken" Mattingly piloted the command craft. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him", Lightfoot concluded.

In 1969, Young was the commander of the Apollo 10 flight to the Moon, a preparation flight for the eventual Apollo 11 Moon landing several months later.

Robert Crippen, who traveled with Mr.

Image NASA  MSFC archives
Image NASA MSFC archives

ABC News last interviewed Young in 2003, after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident that killed seven people. 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 was the only spaceman to span NASA's Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programmes.

Young became special assistant to the director of the Johnson Space Center for engineering, operations and safety in Houston. "Personally, I would like to see [the U.S.] have a domestic program that we are leading up".

Young remained an active astronaut into his early 70s, long after all his peers had left, and held on to his role as NASA's conscience until his retirement in 2004.

"Between his service in the U.S. Navy, where he retired at the rank of captain, and his later work as a civilian at NASA, John spent his entire life in service to our country", Lightfoot said. But seeing "John Young" was actually rarer.

Former President George H.W. Bush called Young a "good friend" in a statement.

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