Learn About John Young’s Prodigious Astronaut Career
John Young lives and breathes spaceflight enjoying the longest NASA career as an astronaut and becoming the first person to make six spaceflights as pilot or commander of Gemini, Apollo Command Module, Lunar Module and the Space Shuttle spacecraft. John was the 9th person to walk on the Moon and is one of only three people to have flown to the Moon twice. John Young retired from NASA in 2004.
John Young’s Life Before NASA
John Young was born in California in 1930, but grew up in Georgia and Florida where he was a member of the Boy Scouts and eventually graduated with a B.SC with honours in Aeronautical Engineering. John would join the Navy in 1952, eventually training to be a helicopter pilot and later a Navy test pilot by 1959.
The Career Of NASA’s Longest Serving Astronaut!
John would join NASA in 1962 as a member of the second astronaut group and would eventually become the longest-serving astronaut, becoming the first person to make six spaceflights. He also became the only person to have either piloted, or commanded, four different types of spacecraft, including Gemini, the Apollo Command/Service Module, the Lunar Module, and the Space Shuttle.
John Young’s first spaceflight was also the first manned flight of Project Gemini ‘Gemini 3’ with Gus Grissom, but he would be reprimanded for smuggling a corned beef sandwich aboard. Young would later be the commander of Gemini 10 in 1966.
The Apollo Program suffered a devastating setback when the Apollo 1 capsule caught fire killing 3 astronauts, this also meant mission scheduling changes, resulting in John next flying aboard Apollo 10 to the moon as the Command Module pilot.
Young was then assigned as backup crew for the Apollo 13 mission and played a central role in their rescue.
John Young commanded the Apollo 16 mission becoming the ninth person to walk on the Moon. John conducted three moonwalks on April 21st, 22nd and 23rd, 1972 searching for volcanic rocks to no avail. He would also drive the Lunar Rover on the Moon!
The Apollo 16 mission meant John Young became one of only 3 people to have visited the Moon twice, but as John was backup commander for the Apollo 17 mission he almost became the first person to walk on the Moon twice!
Space Shuttle Program
Landing on the Moon wasn’t enough for John when NASA completed their new spacecraft, the iconic Space Shuttle, John Young would command the maiden flight of the untested shuttle. He would fly again aboard a later science heavy mission, STS-9, but due to the Challenger disaster missed out flying on a record 7th mission aboard STS-61 J which was supposed to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope.
NASA Management And Legacy
During John Young’s unmatched NASA career he has trained for over 15,000 hours (on mostly simulators) for 11 separate missions and spent over 835 hours in space over 6 spaceflights including walking on the Moon. He has also held several NASA management positions including the role of Chief of the Astronaut Office after the retirement of Alan Shepard.
After a 42 year career, John Young retired from NASA in 2004 and now helps to work towards humans one day living on the Moon or Mars! What an absolute legend.