The only astronaut to fly in NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programmes, John Young, 87, passed away on Saturday after contracting pneumonia. He was a man of many firsts: the first to fly into space six times and the first to command a shuttle flight.
Young began his career as an astronaut at the age of 32 after he was admitted into NASA’s second group of astronauts, known as the ‘New Nine’, alongside Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell.
He was one of the only three astronauts to launch to the moon on two occasions and was the ninth person to set foot on the lunar surface, according to Space.com. Young spent around 34 days, 19 hours and 39 minutes flying in space, which also includes 20 hours and 14 minutes walking on the moon.
Before the historic Apollo 10 mission, Young became the first astronaut to orbit the moon alone. The exercise was a full rehearsal for the first lunar landing, which happened two months later. He had also set the record for attaining the highest speed, 38,897 kilometres per hour, by an astronaut aboard a spacecraft.
In 1962, the legendary astronaut set the world “time-to-climb records” to 3,000 and 25,000-meter altitudes onboard the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom.