Astronaut John Young Dies at 87

Legendary astronaut John Young, who reached the moon on NASA's Apollo 16 mission, passed away on Jan. 5.

John Watts Young was born on Sept. 24 1930. He served as a naval officer and test pilot in the U.S. Military before his career at NASA even began. He completed a tour in the Korean War, and then worked as a test pilot at the Naval Air Test Center in Patuxent River, Maryland, where he set records in the aviation world.

Young joined NASA in 1962. He made the first manned space flight of the Gemini space craft in 1965 alongside Gus Grissom. Young famously smuggled a corned beef sandwich out into space with him, which got him reprimanded back home but made for one of the most memorable moments in the space race.

The sandwich stunt set Young's career back a bit, but it left him open when a pilot position became available in the Apollo program in 1966.

Young worked in various positions on the moon landing projects, but didn't take command until the Apollo 16 mission in 1972. The lunar landing was nearly aborted when the Service Module's SPS engine control system malfunctioned. Despite the setback, Young became the ninth person to walk on the surface of the moon.

On April 21, 22 and 23, Young and Charles Dukes took three moonwalks in the Descartes Highlands. Young set a speed record in the lunar rover before returning to Earth.

Young had two children with his wife, Barbara White, but the two split in 1972. Later in life, he was re-married to Susy Feldman. The couple lived in El Lago, Texas -- just outside of Houston.


NASA announced today that Young passed away yesterday, though no cause of death was specified.