'Fearless' astronaut John Young dies at 87

'Fearless' astronaut John Young dies at 87

"NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", the U.S. space agency said in a statement. The agency didn't say where he died.

Young was the first person to travel to space six times and the ninth of 12 scientists to set foot on the lunar surface.

"Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer", Robert Lightfoot, NASA administrator, said in a statement.

Legendary astronaut John Young, who died Friday in Houston, is being mourned by his fellow space explorers. "He was always questioning what we were doing and why we were doing it". In 1962, NASA selected him as part of Astronaut Group 2, the second batch of pilots that included Neil Armstrong, Frank Borman, Pete Conrad, Jim Lovell, James McDivitt, Elliot See, Thomas Strafford, and Ed White. When one of the flight instructors objected to media going in with a camera, Young stopped, looked at the instructor, and said "I flew this, I wrote the manual, and that's that". He was co-pilot on the first Gemini mission in 1965 and then commanded a Gemini flight the next year and orbited the moon on Apollo 10. During that time, they performed rendezvous maneuvers with a pair of Agena target vehicles that were already in orbit.

In 1972, Young went on to command Apollo 16, and apparently all his experience hadn't made him blasé about space travel. Bouncing along the lunar surface in a four-wheeled rover, he and Charlie Duke collected 200 pounds of rock specimens.

'Fearless' astronaut John Young dies at 87

"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".

Young was an aeronautical engineer who later in his NASA career served as the chief of the astronaut office, choosing those who would fly on the shuttle.

In 1981, Young commanded the shuttle program's inaugural mission, orbiting Earth 37 times in the Columbia.

ABC News last interviewed Young in 2003, after the Space Shuttle Columbia accident that killed seven people.

Young was reassigned in 1987 as special assistant for engineering, operations and safety at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, a move he viewed as punishment for his outspokenness. Chris Hadfield: "An astronaut's astronaut, a fearless individual and a good friend".

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