RIP, John Young →

Late last week, American astronaut and all-around badass John Young passed away at the age of 87.

Young’s 42-year career at NASA is unique; he flew two Gemini missions, served as the command module pilot on Apollo 10 then walked on the moon as part of Apollo 16.

In 1973, he was named Chief of the Space Shuttle Branch of the Astronaut Office and was then promoted to Chief of the Astronaut Office a year later.

In 1981, he commanded the maiden flight of the space shuttle aboard Columbia. The shuttle was too complex to be flown uncrewed; the first test flight required two astronauts to put their lives on the line. The flight went smoothly, and Young made history again by the being the first person to land the space shuttle back on Earth.

Two years later, Young was the commander for STS-9, the shuttle mission that carried the first Spacelab module to orbit.

After the Challenger disaster in 1986, Young was publicly critical of NASA management. He wouldn’t fly another mission, and was assigned the roll of assistant director of Engineering, Operations and Safety at Johnson Space Center. He remained in management at JSC until his retirement.