John Young, Nasa astronaut who walked on the moon, dies aged 87

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John Young, one of 12 men to walk on the moon and NASA's longest-serving astronaut, died Friday at home in Houston after complications from pneumonia.

In addition to being a six-time veteran, he was on the first Gemini mission and commanded the first shuttle flight.

Space shuttle commander walked on the moon during Apollo 16 mission.

In a statement, NASA tweeted: "We're saddened by the loss of astronaut John Young, who was 87".

John Young, Nasa astronaut who walked on the moon, dies aged 87
John Young, Nasa astronaut who walked on the moon, dies aged 87

He flew into space twice during NASA's Gemini programme in the mid-1960s, twice on the Apollo lunar missions and twice on space shuttles in the 1980s. In a statement NASA said Young's career as an astronaut was "full of firsts" including commanding the 1981 Space Shuttle Columbia, the shuttle program's first flight. "He was pretty much dead serious all the time, and yet you got along really well with him". He also commanded two Space Shuttle flights, including its first launch in 1981, and served as the Chief of the Astronaut Office from 1974-1987.

Young retired from NASA in 2004, ending a long career spanning 42 years.

Young during the Gemini 3 mission.

"NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", Lightfoot said.

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John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity.

On Apollo 10 in May 1969, he circled the moon alone as Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan came within 47,000 feet of the moon's surface.

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. Aboard the three-man Apollo he flew to the moon, including once landing on it. In the second trip, Young walked on the moon as part of Apollo 16 in 1972.

Young became special assistant to the director of the Johnson Space Center for engineering, operations and safety in Houston.

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As dinner was coming to a conclusion, the conversation shifted to the remarkable changes that have taken place in Orlando since Capt. John Young grew up here.

"I thought returning safely to Earth sounded like a good idea", said Young, who stood on the Moon, drove 16 miles in a lunar rover and spent three nights on the lunar surface. Young then entered the U.S.Navy Test Pilot School at NAS Patuxent River, graduating in 1959, whereupon he remained stationed at "Pax River" for the next three years, where he flew in the XF8U-3 Crusader III (later cancelled) and McDonnell F4H Phantom II test programs.

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