Astronaut John Young dies at 87

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John Young, America's "most experienced astronaut" who walked on the Moon during the Apollo program and commanded the first space shuttle mission, has passed away, NASA said Saturday. However, that was just one of a series of achievements. Young then participated in the Gemini 3 mission (1965), before ordering Gemini 10 (1966), flying in orbit around the Moon with Apollo 10 (1969) and landing there with Apollo 16 in 1972. On his record-setting sixth and last spaceflight, when he flew the first Spacelab module into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle, he both avoided a mid-flight disaster and landed while an auxiliary power unit was on fire.

Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield echoed that on Twitter, saying "John Young is one of my heroes, an astronaut's astronaut, a fearless individual and a good friend".

Young was the longest serving astronaut, who worked with NASA for 42 years. In other words, he saw dramatic changes to spaceflight throughout his career - he'd started during the Space Race and finished when the International Space Station had become a mainstay.

"John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity", Lightfoot said.

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According to NASA, Young went to space six times as part of the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs.

"To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher", Bush said in a statement.

He eventually became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the USA space programme. "May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly and serve selflessly".

Young was born in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando. He served as chief astronaut from January 1974 until May 1987.

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