John Young, US astronaut and pioneer, dies aged 87


Young then went on to stand on the moon, drive 16 miles in a lunar rover and spent three nights on the lunar surface. According to media reports, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich in his spacesuit, a move that didn't sit well with NASA staff in Houston who anxious about the crumbs.

"Barbara and I join our fellow Americans and many friends in the space community in mourning the loss of astronaut John Young", Bush said in a statement.

In 1972, Young landed on the Moon himself during the Apollo 16 mission.

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 began his career at NASA in 1962, when he was selected from hundreds of young pilots to join NASA's second astronaut class.

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Young's first time in space came in 1965 with the Gemini 3 mission that took him and astronaut Gus Grissom into Earth orbit in the first two-man US space jaunt.

Young flew to the moon twice and landed on it once. If you look at the inevitable consequences and you look at our technologies that we need to make it, you'd come to the same conclusion, and you know, it's doesn't take a lot of thinking, but somebody ought to be anxious about it. During the flight, as they discussed the food provided for the mission, Young handed Grissom the sandwich. Nasa later rebuked him for the stunt. You can drop a pencil in zero gravity and look for it for three days. Young said later that launching the space shuttle always scared him more than it thrilled him because so much could go wrong. "In one-sixth gravity, you just look down and there it is".

NASA later rebuked Young for the antics, which generated criticism from lawmakers and the media, but his career did not suffer. Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission. The crew tested the lander module in lunar orbit without landing it.

Young already had a history of acting as a watchdog for crew safety and firing off blunt memorandums when the Challenger exploded shortly after takeoff in January 1986, killing all seven aboard. He walked on the Moon in 1972 and piloted the first space shuttle flight, STS 1, Columbia, in 1981. He ended up as the only person to fly on space shuttle, Apollo and Gemini missions.

Young, who was born in San Francisco, California in 1930, got an aeronautical engineering degree from Georgia Tech in 1952. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut'".