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NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

He was 87 and died late Friday of complications from pneumonia, the space agency said. Over his 42 year career at the space agency, Young played key roles in some of NASA's defining moments, and helped transition the agency from its focus on reaching the Moon with Gemini and Apollo to the Space Shuttle era.

"Today, NASA and the world have lost a pioneer".

He eventually became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the United States space programme. He was on the first Gemini mission and he commanded the first shuttle flight. "He was always questioning what we were doing and why we were doing it".

Mr Young was in Nasa's second astronaut class, chosen in 1962, along with the likes of Neil Armstrong, Pete Conrad and James Lovell.

Chaikin says Young's NASA career up to that point - culminating with a moon landing - had been impressive. He was co-pilot on the first Gemini mission in 1965 and then commanded a Gemini flight the next year and orbited the moon on Apollo 10.

Returning to Earth, they set a record still not equalled by a manned vehicle, going 32 times the speed of sound, or 40,000 kilometres per hour.

As mission commander, he and crewmate Charles Duke explored the moon's Descartes Highlands region, gathering 200 pounds (90 kg) of rock and soil samples and driving more than 16 miles (26 km) in the lunar rover to sites such as Spook Crater.

NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87
NASA astronaut John Young dies at 87

"Between his service in the U.S. Navy, where he retired at the rank of captain, and his later work as a civilian at NASA, John spent his entire life in service to our country".

He feared it would get him fired, Mr Young said.

NASA officials tweeted their condolences Saturday afternoon.

After his return to Earth, the shuttle would become Young's next focus. "If we do not consider Flight Safety first all the time at all levels of Nasa, this machinery and this programme will NOT make it", he warned colleagues.

He commanded the Columbia again in 1983, his final journey into the cosmos. In his autobiography, he said he felt responsible for the loss of the shuttles Columbia and Challenger because his crews were on board.

"The technical truth always has to be told, and telling it regardless of the consequences was one of my personality traits that people who knew me well learned to put up with", Young wrote in Forever Young, his 2012 autobiography.

Time's up for Hollywood harassment, say leading actors
Since October, men and women have come forward to accuse prominent men in all industries of sexual harassment or misconduct. It will be housed and administrated by the National Women's Law Center , and now has more than $13 million in donations.


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