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Legendary US Astronaut John Young Has Died At Age 87

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Media playback is unsupported on your device                  Media caption John Young became an astronaut in 1962

In 1981, John Young commanded the very first Space Shuttle orbital mission, STS-1. Doubts were expressed as to whether the cost of a fifth American moon landing was justified, and the astronauts themselves wanted to counter such misgivings by landing in the rugged Aristarchus area near the lunar south pole.

Trump signed a directive last month that called on NASA to develop a program that will send humans into space to explore the final frontier.

Young was selected to be an astronaut in 1962.

The space agency said in a statement that Mr. Young became the ninth person to walk on the moon during Apollo 16. "He went to space six times in the Gemini, Apollo & Space Shuttle programs".

That included debut flights on two-man Gemini craft and a space shuttle.

The US astronaut who famously smuggled a corned beef sandwich into space has died at the age of 87.

On Apollo 10 in May 1969, he circled the moon alone as Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan came within 47,000 feet of the moon's surface.

While walking on the moon, Young and Duke received word that Congress had approved the funding to develop the space shuttle.

Robert Crippen, who traveled with Mr.

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After two days and six hours, they landed a spacecraft for the first time on land instead of water - at Edwards Air Force Base in southern California. 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 the only spaceman to span NASA's Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programmes.

Young spent his last 17 years at Johnson Space Center in Houston in management, focusing on safety issues.

He retired from NASA in December 2004.

Born in San Francisco in 1930, Young joined the US Navy in 1952.

After graduation, he entered the U.S. Navy, including serving on the destroyer USS Laws in the Korean War.

Prior to joining NASA, John Young was a naval aviator and test pilot. But seeing "John Young" was actually rarer.

Former President George H.W. Bush said Young was "more than a good friend; he was a fearless patriot whose courage and commitment to duty helped our nation push back the horizon of discovery at a critical time".

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