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NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

John Young, one of only 12 humans to walk on the moon and commander of Nasa's first space shuttle mission, has died. He eventually became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the USA space program.

In his career, NASA tweeted he "flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface and flew the first Space Shuttle mission".

Young was a man of many firsts: the only astronaut to fly in the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs (and the first to command a shuttle flight); and the first to fly into space six times.

"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight". He was also a recipient of more than 80 other major awards, according to NASA. 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. It's not like being in zero gravity, you know.

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 US space jaunt. However, that was just one of a series of achievements.

He once held the world record for total time spent in space, NASA said.

NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87
NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

"I got a telegram from the chief of naval operations", Young said in his understated way, "asking me not to do this any more".

In 1969, Young was the commander of the Apollo 10 flight to the Moon, a preparation flight for the eventual Apollo 11 Moon landing several months later.

He never went to space again. In his autobiography, he said he felt responsible for the loss of the shuttles Columbia and Challenger because his crews were on board.

News of his death prompted tributes, including from fellow astronauts who called him a "hero" and "astronauts' astronaut", and from former President George H.W. Bush. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him", NASA said. "He was a fearless patriot whose courage and commitment to duty helped our nation push back the horizon of discovery at a critical time".

Born in San Francisco in 1930, Young joined the US Navy in 1952. He eventually became a Navy fighter and test pilot.

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