RIP John Young

John Young, who had the longest career of any NASA astronaut, passed away on January 5 at age 87. Since I was out of town at the time, I wrote this addendum to last week’s TDIAH post today.

Young in 1963 during Gemini 3 (NASA)

January 5, 2018 – The death of John Young, an American aeronautical engineer, US Naval Aviator, test pilot, and astronaut. Young was born in San Francisco, California, on September 24, 1930 and began flying with the US Navy as a helicopter pilot in 1954 before transferring to jets, flying Grumman F-9 Cougars from USS Coral Sea and Vought F-8 Crusaders from USS Forrestal. Young then joined NASA in 1962 as part of Astronaut Group 2 and was the first member of his group to fly in space when he joined Gus Grissom in the first manned flight of the Gemini program in 1965. During his time with the space agency, Young made six space flights including Gemini 3 and Gemini 10Apollo 10, where he became the first man to orbit the Moon alone, and Apollo 16, where he drove the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the Moon. His flights aboard two Apollo missions made Young one of only three astronauts who have flown to the Moon twice. He made the first of two flights aboard the Space Shuttle as commander of the maiden flight in 1981, making him the only astronaut to fly in four different classes of space vehicle: Gemini, the Apollo Command/Service Module, the Apollo Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle. Young’s retirement from NASA in 2004 after 42 years of service marked the end of the longest career of any NASA astronaut. His logbook contains more than 15,275 hours of flying time in all manner of powered aircraft (more than 9,200 hours in Northrop T-38 Talon alone), and 835 hours in spacecraft logged over the course of six space flights.

Young salutes the American flag on the Moon during Apollo 16 mission in a photo taken by astronaut Charles Duke Jr. on April 21, 1972 (NASA)
Young, left, with Shuttle Pilot Robert Crippen, the crew of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission in 1981 (NASA)

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