American astronaut John Young, who became the 9th person to walk on the Moon and served as the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission, has died, NASA said on Saturday. He was 87 years old.
NASA said in a statement that Young had passed away, but provided no details about the cause, time, and place of his death.
Young, who was born in San Francisco, was selected to become an astronaut in 1962. He flew on the first manned Gemini mission in 1965 and operated the first computer on a manned spacecraft.
On his third flight, in May 1969, Young was the Command Module Pilot of Apollo 10, which orbited the Moon. Young stayed behind alone as his fellow crew members left to examine proposed landing sites.
Young set foot on the Moon during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972, becoming the ninth person to do so. And nearly a decade later, in 1981, he became the commander of STS-1, which was the first flight of the Space Shuttle.
Young retired from NASA in 2004, ending a career during which he went to space six times, or seven times when counting his liftoff from the Moon.
Former U.S. President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara expressed their condolences in a statement. “He was a fearless patriot whose courage and commitment to duty helped our Nation push back the horizon of discovery at a critical time,” the former president said.
Bush added: “To us, he represented the best in the American spirit – always looking forward, always reaching higher. John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family. May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly, and serve selflessly.”
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