He died Friday following complications from pneumonia, according to a statement from the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration. "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", NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said.
"John was one of that group of early space pioneers whose bravery and commitment sparked our nation's first great achievements in space". The first person to go to space six times, seven if you count his lunar liftoff. His fourth space flight, Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972, was a lunar exploration mission, with Young as Spacecraft Commander, and Ken Mattingly and Charlie Duke.
Over the course of his career he flew into space six times in the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. His hard scrutiny continued well past shuttle Columbia's disintegration during re-entry in 2003.
Young avoided the limelight but was outspoken and known for writing hundreds of memos pointing out safety flaws and operational concerns.
Mr. Young's decades of experience and low-key manner made him a revered figure among other astronauts. "You want to be right".
Young was in NASA's second astronaut class, chosen in 1962, along with the likes of Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad and James Lovell.
At NASA, Young enjoyed a notable career. The ensuing scandal over two silly minutes of an otherwise triumphant five-hour flight always amazed him. The two spent nearly three days in space, completing 43 orbits of Earth.
He and Grissom had spoken about faulty wiring in an early model of the Apollo spacecraft but had not brought their concerns to NASA authorities, for fear of losing their jobs. Mr.
He feared it would get him fired, Mr Young said.
"The Moon is a very nice place", he had said.
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 commanded Apollo 16 three years later, the next-to-last manned lunar voyage, and walked on the moon. While Young flew close formation on the second Agena, Mike Collins did an extravehicular transfer to retrieve a micro meteorite detector from that Agena.
He commanded the Columbia again in 1983, his final journey into the cosmos. He took pictures of the nose-diving crew cabin.
"Barbara and I join our fellow Americans and many friends in the space community in mourning the loss of astronaut John Young", Bush said in a statement.
"The country needs it".
"And at that time", he said with a straight face, "I was the chief". "I'm not going to be here that long".
In February 1996 Young was assigned as Associate Director (Technical), responsible for technical, operational and safety oversight of all Agency Programs and activities assigned to the Johnson Space Center. He retired at the end of 2004.
Born on September 24th, 1930, Young attended the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he earned his degree in aeronautical engineering in 1952.
He said Young, a former Navy test pilot, was special. He eventually became a Navy fighter and test pilot.
Former President George H.W. Bush called Young a "fearless patriot".
"To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher".
Bush also said "John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family".