Published: Sun, January 07, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Original Space Shuttle commander John Young dies

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. When one of the flight instructors objected to us going in with a camera, Young stopped, looked at the instructor and said: "I flew this, I wrote the manual, and that's that". He was best known as the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission, taking Columbia into orbit in 1981.

"We were testing stuff out and making sure the payload bay doors worked right and checking to make sure the radiator deployed and stuff like that to make sure we'd operate OK on orbit", Young told CNN in 2011.

"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight", Lightfoot said.

The next year, on Gemini 10, Young and Mike Collins completed a dual docking and other maneuvers as prelude to the Apollo program's quest to put a man on the moon.

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John Young salutes on the surface of the Moon on April 21, 1972.

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

Retired U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly said he was saddened by the loss and called Young in a tweet "the astronauts' astronaut, a true legend".

Former President George H.W. Bush said Young was "more than a good friend; he was a fearless patriot whose courage and commitment to duty helped our nation push back the horizon of discovery at a critical time".

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The longest-serving astronaut in the space program, Young's career began as a Navy test flier.

"John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family". He went on to study aeronautical engineering at Georgia Tech, where he graduated with highest honors in 1952. A memo he had sent three weeks earlier, leaked to the media after the tragedy, criticized NASA for compromising protection to meet launch schedules.

Young became chief of NASA's Astronaut Office, supervising training of new recruits and helping to develop the shuttle, the first fixed-wing space vehicle designed for reuse. He spent 42 years at the agency, retiring in 2004.

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