Astronaut John Young Dead

Astronaut John Young Dead”

USA astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon in 1972 and even smuggled a corned beef sandwich into orbit during a career that made him the only person to fly with three NASA space programs, has died at age 87, officials said on Saturday.

Young, described in a NASA tweet as "our most experienced astronaut", retired in 2004 after 42 years with the USA space agency. An aeronautical engineer by training, he then joined NASA's management, notably in charge of selecting astronauts for the Space Shuttle.

Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Mr Young maintained Nasa should be developing massive rockets to lift payloads to the moon to industrialise it, he said, and building space systems for detecting and deflecting comets or asteroids that could threaten Earth.

He eventually became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the U.S. space programme.

The former US Navy test pilot flew into space twice during the Gemini programme of NASA in 1960's and twice on space shuttles. 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. He retired in 2004 having served as the chief of the astronaut office, responsible for crew selection.

Details about Young's death were not immediately released.

"To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher", the statement read.

Astronaut John Young Dead

Robert Crippen, Young's co-pilot on Columbia's successful maiden voyage in 1981, told The Associated Press that flying with Young was "a real treat".

It was the safety measures put in place after the fire that got 12 men, Mr Young included, safely to the moon and back.

"Anybody who ever flew in space admired John", said Crippen, a close friend who last spoke to him a few months ago.

We're saddened by the loss of astronaut John Young, who was 87.

Young was born in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando.

"He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut, '" Lightfoot said.

Young returned to space on July 18th 1966 as the Command Pilot for Gemini 10, along with future Apollo 11 astronaut Michael Collins.

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