John Young (1930-2018)
John Watts Young, the US Apollo astronaut who twice walked on the Moon and commanded the first Space Shuttle mission, has died aged 87.
A seasoned veteran of space
Nasa said of the space pioneer in a tweet “We’re saddened by the loss of astronaut John Young, who was 87. Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission. He went to space six times in the Gemini, Apollo & Space Shuttle programs.”
Born in 1930
Young was born in San Francisco on September 24, 1930 and joined the Navy in 1952, receiving his aviator wings two years later. In 1962 he was selected by NASA to join the Project Gemini, their second human spaceflight programme after Mercury.
In 1965, together with Gus Grissom (L), Young piloted the first manned flight of Project Gemini as a replacement for Thomas P. Stafford after the original commander, Alan Shepard, was grounded due to illness.
Making a meal of it
This cake wasn’t the only thing to welcome the astronauts on their return to Earth – Young received a stiff reprimand for smuggling a corned beef sandwich aboard Gemini 3.
Second Gemini success
He next took to space as commander of Gemini 10, alongside pilot Michael Collins, in a mission that lasted 2 days, 22 hours, 46 minutes, 39 seconds.
Dress rehearsal for the Moon landing
His next mission was at the helm of Apollo 7, this first manned mission of the Apollo programme. Together with Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan, the crew would be reunited for Apollo 10, the dress rehearsal for the Moon landing. In this photo Young is showing a picture of Charlie Brown, which was the nickname of the Apollo 10 Command Module – the Lunar Module was called Snoopy, obviously.
While the rest of the Apollo 10 crew headed towards the surface in the Lunar Module, Young remained onboard the Command Module, giving him the honour of being the first person to orbit the Moon solo.
Vetern Apollo astronaut
Twice more would John Young return to the Moon, getting his chance to walk on the lunar surface during Apollo 16 and reuniting with Eugene Cernan for the final Apollo mission.
Space Shuttle Commander
After the race to the Moon ended, John Young’s skills and expertise were used as NASA’s Chief of the Astronaut Office, and together with Robert Laurel Crippen in 12 April 1981 Commanded the first flight of the Space Shuttle era aboard the Space Shuttle Columbia (STS-1). Later he would command STS-9, which carried the first Spacelab module.
The longest-serving astronaut
Young retired from NASA in 2004 after a 42-year career, the longest of any astronaut, that saw him visit space on six separate occasions aboard four different vessels.
John Young with his family
Young had two children with his first wife (pictured) and is survived by his second wife.
He died on 5 January after complications with pneumonia.
Astronaut John Young in space suit
President Ronald Reagan decorates Young and Robert L. Crippen after the first Space Shuttle mission
Dancing on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission
Shaving while mission commander Thomas Stafford looks on during the Apollo 10 flight to the Moon
Young (left) and Robert Laurel Crippen give a thumbs up from the cockpit of the Space Shuttle Columbia
NASA astronauts John Watts Young (left) and Robert Laurel Crippen, the crew of the STS-1 mission on the space shuttle ‘Columbia’ (NASA Orbiter Vehicle OV-102), give a thumbs up from the cockpit of the shuttle at the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida, 20th October 1980.
A ticker tape parade after the Apollo 10 mission
Apollo 10 astronauts Gene Cernan, Tom Stafford, and John Young, with San Francisco Mayor Joseph Alioto, wave from a convertible limousine during a ticker tape parade in their honor down Montgomery Street, San Francisco, California, June 17, 1969. On the mission, Young was Command Module Pilot, Cernan was Lunar Module Pilot, and Stafford was Mission Commander. Their orbit of the moon (May 18 – May 26, 1969) served as a ‘dress rehearsal’ for the Apollo 11’s moon landing.