A sad statement issued by NASA this weekend formally announced the passing of legendary American astronaut John Young, who died on Friday at 87 years old while battling a nasty bout of pneumonia.
Image Credit: NASA
Young was best known for his participation in the Apollo missions, during which he visited the lunar surface several times. He also piloted the first Space Shuttle mission and partook in numerous other space exploration-oriented programs.
As NASA puts it, Young was a space pioneer; he was the only spaceman to participate in each the Apollo, Gemini, and Space Shuttle programs. Consequently, he was something of an inspirational icon for aspiring NASA astronauts.
We're saddened by the loss of astronaut John Young, who was 87. Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission. He went to space six times in the Gemini, Apollo & Space Shuttle programs. pic.twitter.com/l4nSwUCMIq— NASA (@NASA) January 6, 2018
“Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer,” said acting NASA administrator Robert Lightfoot. “Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier.”
“John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space. But, not content with that, his hands-on contributions continued long after the last of his six spaceflights -- a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit.”
Those who worked closely with Young back in the day remember a brave and hard-working man who could accomplish just about anything. More importantly, he cared deeply about the safety of his co-workers.
“Between his service in the U.S. Navy, where he retired at the rank of captain, and his later work as a civilian at NASA, John spent his entire life in service to our country,” Lightfoot continued.
“His career included the test pilot’s dream of two ‘first flights’ in a new spacecraft -- with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, and as Commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission, which some have called ‘the boldest test flight in history.’ He flew as Commander on Gemini 10, the first mission to rendezvous with two separate spacecraft the course of a single flight. He orbited the Moon in Apollo 10 and landed there as Commander of the Apollo 16 mission. On STS-9, his final spaceflight, and in an iconic display of test pilot ‘cool,’ he landed the space shuttle with a fire in the back end.”
A video released by NASA over the weekend honors Young's life and achievements:
Young’s passing comes slightly over two weeks after Bruce McCandless’ death. McCandless was the first astronaut to fly without a tether cable during a routine spacewalk mission.
Although Young is no longer with us, his legacy lives on. It will inspire all current and future-generation astronauts for decades to come.