John Young, who flew six times to space, dies at 87

John Young, who flew six times to space, dies at 87

Image credit: NASA " NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", said Robert Lightfoot in a statement the day after Young died.

He was one of the only three astronauts to launch to the moon on two occasions and was the ninth person to set foot on the lunar surface, according to Space.com.

Obit John Young, the first pilot of a space shuttle, and longest serving astronaut in NASA's history, has died at the age of 87 due to complications caused by pneumonia.

While Young achieved many firsts during his career - such as flying in space six times, and commanding the inaugural shuttle and Spacelab missions - one memorable feat was smuggling a corned beef sandwich into space during his maiden spaceflight on Gemini 3 in 1965.

Young was in Nasa's second astronaut class, chosen in 1962, along with the likes of Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad and James Lovell.

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.

You'd think that such a moment on the moon, with John Young poised on the rim of a crater, or driving the moon rover, would be the ultimate moment in a spaceflight career.

Then, in 1966, he flew as Commander on Gemini 10, the first mission to rendezvous with two separate spacecrafts on the course of a single flight.

Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, Young's blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record. "Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight. Because time on the Moon was so precious, what I remember most is trying to catch up". Young retired from NASA in 2004.

Young was at the helm for the first space shuttle mission, STS-1, when Columbia rose into the sky in April 1981.

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".

Young grew up in Florida.

He flew into space twice during NASA's Gemini programme in the mid-1960s, twice on the Apollo lunar missions and twice on space shuttles in the 1980s.

"I was just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, and to get the opportunity to do it", Young humbly remarked after his retirement.

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