Astronaut John Young remembered as "fearless"

Astronaut John Young remembered as

He ended up as one of NASA's most experienced flyers, becoming the first astronaut to fly into space six times, and the only one to enter space in each of the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs.

During his first mission, aboard Gemini 3 in 1965, Mr.

Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, Young's blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record.

As mission commander, he and crewmate Charles Duke explored the moon's Descartes Highlands region, gathering 200 pounds (90 kg) of rock and soil samples and driving more than 16 miles (26 km) in the lunar rover to sites such as Spook Crater. While Young flew close formation on the second Agena, Mike Collins did an extravehicular transfer to retrieve a micro meteorite detector from that Agena. In May 1969, he piloted the command module of Apollo 10 around the moon as a dress rehearsal for the first lunar landing two months later by Apollo 11. Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan were also on this mission which orbited the Moon, completed a lunar rendezvous, and tracked proposed lunar landing sites.

Young, left, with Robert Crippen, flew Columbia on STS-1, the Shuttle program's maiden flight 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. The Orbiter Columbia was the first manned spaceship tested during ascent, on orbit, and entry without benefit of previous unmanned missions.

Astronaut John Young remembered as
Astronaut John Young remembered as "fearless"

Sandwiches had already flown in space, he said in his book, but Nasa brass and Congress considered this a multimillion-dollar embarrassment and outlawed corned beef sandwiches in space forever. When it was time for the freeze-dried lunch, he handed the sandwich to Grissom as a joke. The Spacelab was brought back for re-use, so that Columbia weighed over 110 tons as Young landed the spaceship at Edwards Air Force Base, California.

He has logged more than 15,275 hours flying time in props, jets, helicopters, rocket jets, more than 9,200 hours in T-38s, and six space flights of 835 hours.

Mr Young remained an active astronaut into his early 70s and held on to his role as Nasa's conscience until his retirement in 2004.

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-person U.S. space jaunt. An aeronautical engineer by training, he then joined NASA's management, notably in charge of selecting astronauts for the Space Shuttle. In January 1974, he was selected to be Chief of the Astronaut Office, with responsibility for the coordination, scheduling, and control of activities of the astronauts. Young became a forthright voice for astronaut safety.

NASA Johnson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa said, "It would be hard to overstate the impact that John Young had on human space flight".

When he retired from NASA in 2004, he'd been with the agency for 42 years - the longest serving astronaut. He attached a cardboard map of the moon to the vehicle and continued on his way.

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