Young, described in a Nasa tweet as "our most experienced astronaut", retired in 2004 after 42 years with the U.S. space agency. "Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight", NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot said in an emailed statement Saturday. He was the only moon walker to pilot a space shuttle, the first person to go into space six times and the only one to fly and command four types of spacecraft - Gemini, Apollo, lunar module and shuttle. "You've just got to hang in there". His earliest voyage into space was on Gemini 3, the agency's first two-man flight, commanded by Virgil "Gus" Grissom, in 1965.
Young spent his last 17 years at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston in management, focusing on safety issues. Tests of the Orbiter Columbia included evaluation of mechanical systems including the payload bay doors, the attitude and maneuvering rocket thrusters, guidance and navigation systems, and Orbiter/crew compatibility. Then he added: "Everything worked, that was the incredible part. especially on re-entry when we didn't get burned up".
He flew into space six times during his 42 year career at NASA, including two trips to the moon. On his third flight, May 18-26, 1969, Young was Command Module Pilot of Apollo 10.
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. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him".
"If anybody deserves the title of legend it would be John Young", said Andrew Chaikin, an author who has written extensively on NASA.
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.
U.S. astronaut John Young dies aged 87
"The technical truth always has to be told, and telling it regardless of the consequences was one of my personality traits that people who knew me well learned to put up with", Young wrote in Forever Young, his 2012 autobiography.
"To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher". "John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family", Bush said. "May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly and serve selflessly".
Born in San Francisco in 1930, Young joined the US Navy in 1952.
He joined the Navy, serving on a destroyer before becoming a pilot in 1959. A memo he had sent three weeks earlier, leaked to the media after the tragedy, criticised Nasa for compromising protection to meet launch schedules. Young retained a single-minded devotion to the space program that kept him working 12-hour days into his 70s. In January 1974, he was selected to be Chief of the Astronaut Office, with responsibility for the coordination, scheduling, and control of activities of the astronauts.
While Young retired from NASA in 2004, he remained a constant figure at the agency, Young remained at NASA until 2004, when he retired at the age of 74.More news: CAF African Footballer Of The Year Announced
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