Global

More on the life of John Young, an 'astronauts' astronaut'

More on the life of John Young, an 'astronauts' astronaut'

Young, a graduate of the old Orlando High School, was the only astronaut to have flown during the Apollo and Gemini missions as well as the Space Shuttle Program.

US astronaut Terry Virts said in a tweet: "Rest In Peace John Young".

Saddened for the loss of former astronaut colleague John Young - the astronauts' astronaut, a true legend.

"Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", Robert Lightfoot, NASA administrator, said in a statement.

In February 1996 Young was assigned as Associate Director (Technical), responsible for technical, operational and safety oversight of all Agency Programs and activities assigned to the Johnson Space Center. However, that was just one of a series of achievements. You can drop a pencil in zero gravity and look for it for three days.

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.

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.

Young's sixth flight was as Spacecraft Commander of STS-9, the first Spacelab mission, November 28-December 8, 1983, with Pilot Brewster Shaw, Mission Specialists Bob Parker and Owen Garriott, and Payload Specialists Byron Lichtenberg of the US and Ulf Merbold of West Germany. Young and his crew undertook each aspect of that subsequent mission except for an actual moon landing.

He showed us the space shuttle trainer in Building 9, were astronauts learn how to fly the orbiter.

"I got a telegram from the chief of naval operations", Young said in his understated way, "asking me not to do this any more".

He commanded Gemini 10, the first mission to rendezvous with two other spacecraft during a single flight.

NASA later rebuked Young for the antics, which generated criticism from lawmakers and the media, but his career did not suffer.

He never went to space again.

News of his death prompted tributes, including from fellow astronauts who called him a "hero" and "astronauts' astronaut" and from former President George H.W. Bush.

Young was born on September 24, 1930, in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando, Florida. But he was also described as a savvy engineer and a "test pilot's test pilot".