Facts about John Young
John Young Biography
John Young was the first astronaut to fly into space six times, the ninth man to walk on the moon, and the pilot of the first American space shuttle mission. NASA called him “in every way the astronaut’s astronaut” after his death in 2018.
John Young graduated from high school in Orlando, Florida and then earned a B.S. in aeronautical engineering from Georgia Tech in 1952. He joined the Navy, went to flight school, flew fighter jets, then moved up to Navy test pilot in 1959.
In 1962, he joined Neil Armstrong and seven others in NASA’s second class of astronaut candidates (aka “the New Nine”). Three years later he was in space, flying on Gemini 3 with Gus Grissom in a five-hour flight on March 23, 1965. He then flew with Michael Collins on Gemini 10 (July 18-21, 1966).
In May of 1969 he circled the moon as the command module pilot on Apollo 10, the “dress rehearsal” for Armstrong’s historic Apollo 11 moon landing two months later. He returned to the moon and landed on Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972) when he not only landed and walked but drove 16 miles in the lunar rover and spent three nights on the moon’s surface.
John Young then moved on to his third space vehicle: the space shuttle. He was commander of STS-1, the first flight of the space shuttle, from April 12-14 in 1981 (with Bob Crippen as pilot). He was 53 years old when he commanded STS-9 in 1983 (November 28-December 8), which was the first mission to take the Spacelab experimental station into space.
John Young retired from the Navy as a captain in 1976, having served 25 years in the military (much of it assigned to NASA). He spent his later years at NASA focused on astronaut safety and risk mitigation; he retired from NASA in 2004.
His many awards over his career included the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (1981) and three Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1998. His 2012 autobiography was titled Forever Young.
John Young married Barbara White in 1955; they divorced in 1971. They had two children: Sandy (born 1958) and John (b. 1959). Young then married Susy Feldman, and they remained married until his death in 2017… “In addition to his six spaceflights, Young was a member of five backup crews,” according to NASA’s obituary… John Young famously smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto his Gemini 3 flight, sharing a few bites in space with Gus Grissom before drifting crumbs forced him to put the sandwich away.
Something in Common with John Young
- Libra Astronauts (2)