United States astronaut John Young who commanded first space shuttle mission dies

United States astronaut John Young who commanded first space shuttle mission dies

United States astronaut John Young who commanded first space shuttle mission dies

Over the course of his career he flew into space six times in the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.

Astronaut Wally Schirra, who was not flying on the mission, bought the corned beef sandwich on rye bread from a delicatessen in Cocoa Beach, Florida, and asked Young to give it to Grissom in space.

Retired NASA astronaut Neil Armstrong, left, retired astronaut Capt. Eugene Cernan, center, and retired astronaut John Young, appear on Capitol Hill May 26, 2010, in Washington, D.C.

Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission.

He flew twice during the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, twice to the moon during NASA's Apollo program, and twice more aboard the new space shuttle Columbia in the early 1980s.

United States astronaut John Young who commanded first space shuttle mission dies

In a statement, acting NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said that Young was one of the "early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space", who spent his entire life in the service to his country, and that he was "in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut'".

Young, a Navy Test Pilot, was selected as an astronaut in 1962. In the second trip, Young walked on the moon as part of Apollo 16 in 1972. That crew later became the prime crew for Apollo 10, which performed a "dress rehearsal" in May 1969 for the Apollo 11 mission later that summer. Returning to Earth, they set a record still not equaled by a manned vehicle, going 32 times the speed of sound, or 24,816 miles per hour. Young and his crew undertook each aspect of that subsequent mission except for an actual moon landing. Bouncing along the lunar surface in a four-wheeled rover, he and Charlie Duke collected 200 pounds of rock specimens.

"Earth's geologic history is pretty clear: It says, quite frankly, that single-planet species don't last", Young said, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle story.

Young, left, with Robert Crippen, flew Columbia on STS-1, the Shuttle program's maiden flight in 1981. According to media reports, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich in his spacesuit, a move that didn't sit well with NASA staff in Houston who anxious about the crumbs. Not many people argued with Young.

Young was born on September 24, 1930, in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando, Florida. He went on to study aeronautical engineering at Georgia Tech, where he graduated with highest honors in 1952.

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