USA astronaut John Young who commanded first space shuttle mission dies

Legendary astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon and later commanded the first space shuttle flight, has died, according to a statement from NASA.

The US agency said on Saturday that the former astronaut's death was due to complications following pneumonia.

Young, a Navy Test Pilot, was selected as an astronaut in 1962.

Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts.

He completed six spaceflights during his career, which was a world record at the time of his retirement.

Young orbited the moon in Apollo 10, and made a lunar landing with Apollo 16.

Young became one of the most accomplished astronauts in the history of the US space program.

Young retired from NASA in 2004 after 42 years of being employed by NASA.

He and crewmate Charles Duke gathered rock and soil samples and drove the lunar rover more than 16 miles (26km).

He was part of the first manned Gemini mission - with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3 in 1965.

Recalling his lunar exploits, Young told the Houston Chronicle in 2004: "One-sixth gravity on the surface of the moon is just delightful". When one of the flight instructors objected to us 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 became the first person to fly six space missions in 1983, when he commanded Columbia on the first Spacelab trek, with the crew performing more than 70 scientific experiments.

In his autobiography, he revealed that he felt responsible for the shuttle accidents of the Challenger (1986) and Columbia (2003).

Young was born in San Francisco California but grew up in Georgia, Florida. "Godspeed." When asked about the risk of flying on the space shuttle Columbia for the first time in 1981, Young responded "Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world, knowing they are going to light the bottom, and doesn't get a little anxious, does not fully understand the situation".

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