NASA trailblazing astronaut John Young dies at age 87

NASA trailblazing astronaut John Young dies at age 87

U.S. astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon in 1972 and was the only person to fly with three NASA space programs, has died aged 87.

The space agency said in a statement that Young died Friday night following complications from pneumonia. "We will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier", NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said in a statement.

Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts. "Godspeed." When asked about the risk of flying on the space shuttle Columbia for the first time in 1981, Young responded "Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world, knowing they are going to light the bottom, and doesn't get a little anxious, does not fully understand the situation".

Young returned to space on July 18th 1966 as the Command Pilot for Gemini 10, along with future Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins. It was the first time NASA had ever launched a manned mission without first testing unmanned versions of the same vehicle.

Once the United States had beaten the Soviet Union's cosmonauts to the moon and funding dried up, Young pushed Nasa to return to the moon or venture to Mars, to provide the human race with a backup home in the event of Earth's destruction. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him", NASA said.

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Legendary astronaut John Young died Saturday. Three years later he was selected as a NASA astronaut.

"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.

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

Mr Young spent his last 17 years at Johnson Space Centre in Houston in management, focusing on safety issues. He retired in 2004. After receiving a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952, he entered the Navy and graduated from its test pilot school.

From there, Young joined the Apollo program, where he was assigned to the Apollo 7 backup crew as the Command Module Pilot, along with astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan.

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