Astronaut John Young Dead

Phillip Butler
January 7, 2018

Spaceflight just lost one of its better-known icons: NASA astronaut John Young has died at the age of 87.

Test pilot for the Navy, Young made the fastest climb from the ground on a F-4 Phantom II jet, before joining NASA. John Young was the only astronaut to have participated in the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle projects. He flew on the first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft in 1965 (and led a flight in 1966), traveled to the Moon twice (including a moonwalk during Apollo 16) and played a key role in the rescue of Apollo 13 by helping to stretch out its resources.

When he retired from NASA in 2004, he'd been with the agency for 42 years - the longest serving astronaut.

Recalling his lunar exploits, Young told the Houston Chronicle in 2004: "One-sixth gravity on the surface of the moon is just delightful". He was on the first Gemini mission and he commanded the first shuttle flight.

Remembering Young, Lightfood further said, "I participated in many Space Shuttle Flight Readiness Reviews with John, and will always remember him as the classic "hell of an engineer" from Georgia Tech, who had an uncanny ability to cut to the heart of a technical issue by posing the ideal question - followed by his iconic phrase, 'Just asking...'" It's not like being in zero gravity, you know.

John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity.

Young was the only astronaut to have flown into space six times. During the flight, as they discussed the food provided for the mission, Young handed Grissom the sandwich. He orbited the moon and even walked on its craggy surface. He became the first person to fly six space missions in 1983, when he commanded Columbia on the first Spacelab trek, with the crew performing more than 70 scientific experiments.

Astronaut John Young Dead

He also commissioned the first mission of the American Space Shuttle in 1981.

He never went to space again.

ABC News last interviewed Young in 2003, after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident that killed seven people.

"John was more than a good friend", former President George H.W. Bush said in a statement.

Young was born on September 24, 1930, in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando, Florida.

Chaikin says Young's NASA career up to that point - culminating with a moon landing - had been impressive.

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