'Pioneer' US astronaut John Young, dead at 87

07 January, 2018, 08:14 | Author: Phil Peters
  • 'Pioneer' US astronaut John Young, dead at 87

John Young, a legendary United States astronaut, died of complications from pneumonia on Friday, NASA announced Saturday. He flew on the first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft in 1965 (and led a flight in 1966), traveled to the Moon twice (including a moonwalk during Apollo 16) and played a key role in the rescue of Apollo 13 by helping to stretch out its resources. He was best known as the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission, taking Columbia into orbit in 1981.

He was 87 and died late Friday of complications from pneumonia, the space agency said.

Young was a man of many firsts: the only astronaut to fly in the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs; the first to command a shuttle flight; and the first to fly into space six times. He lived in a Houston suburb just minutes from the NASA Space Center.

The former US Navy test pilot was the ninth person to set foot on the moon, an experience shared by three others after Young. He once held the world record for total time spent in space, NASA said. But he was also described as a savvy engineer and a "test pilot's test pilot".

'Pioneer' US astronaut John Young, dead at 87
'Pioneer' US astronaut John Young, dead at 87

Remembering Young, Lightfood further said, "I participated in many Space Shuttle Flight Readiness Reviews with John, and will always remember him as the classic "hell of an engineer" from Georgia Tech, who had an uncanny ability to cut to the heart of a technical issue by posing the flawless question - followed by his iconic phrase, 'Just asking...'"

"He would go into meetings with the specialists for a particular system and he would say in this kind of country-boy way, 'Well, you know, I don't understand much about the such and such but what gets me is.' and then he would proceed to ask just a completely penetrating technical question that would just, you know, flatten these people", said Chaikin. "If you look at the inevitable consequences and you look at our technologies that we need to make it, you'd come to the same conclusion, and you know, it's doesn't take a lot of thinking, but somebody ought to be anxious about it".

"Never met two people like them", he said.

When he retired from NASA in 2004, he'd been with the agency for 42 years - the longest serving astronaut. "Everyone else gets into an airplane; John and Hoot wear their airplane".

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