Astronaut John Young dies at the age of 87

Astronaut John Young, the first astronaut to fly into space for a total of six times, has died at the age of 87 from pneumonia.

Young flew into space six times in the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs and flew twice to the moon.

Former President George H.W. Bush stated about the passing of his good friend, John Young:

Barbara and I join our fellow Americans and many friends in the space community in mourning the loss of astronaut John Young. John 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. To us, he represented the best in the American spirit — always looking forward, always reaching higher. John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family. May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly, and serve selflessly.

Statement from NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot on the passing of John Young:

“Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer. Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier.

“John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space. But, not content with that, his hands-on contributions continued long after the last of his six spaceflights -- a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit.

“Between his service in the U.S. Navy, where he retired at the rank of captain, and his later work as a civilian at NASA, John spent his entire life in service to our country.  His career included the test pilot’s dream of two ‘first flights’ in a new spacecraft -- with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, and as Commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission, which some have called ‘the boldest test flight in history.’ He flew as Commander on Gemini 10, the first mission to rendezvous with two separate spacecraft the course of a single flight. He orbited the Moon in Apollo 10, and landed there as Commander of the Apollo 16 mission. On STS-9, his final spaceflight, and in an iconic display of test pilot ‘cool,’ he landed the space shuttle with a fire in the back end. 

“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 perfect question -- followed by his iconic phrase, ‘Just asking...’ 

“John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity.  He was in every way the 'astronaut’s astronaut.' We will miss him.”