Below is a statement from current NASA Administrator Robert Lightfook on the passing of John Young, who died Friday night after complications from pneumonia at age 87. Young is the agency's only astronaut to have flown into space as part of the Gemini, Apollo and Space Shuttle programs, and the first to fly into space six times:
"Today, NASA and the world lost a pioneer. astronaut John Young, with a historic career that embraced three generations of space flight; we will rest on his shoulders as we look ahead to the next human frontier.
"John was part of the group of space pioneers whose bravery and commitment provided the spark for our nation's first major achievements in space. But, not content with that, his practical contributions continued well after his last (of six) space flight - a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit.
"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 devoted his entire life in service to our country. His career included the dream of test pilots on two "maiden flights" on a new spacecraft - with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, and as Commander of STS-1, the first Space Shuttle mission, which somecalled it 'the most daring test flight in history.' He flew as Commander on Gemini 10, the first mission to maneuver with two separate spacecraft in the course of a single flight. He orbited the moon on Apollo 10, and landed there as Commander of the Apollo 16 mission. On STS-9, his final flight, and in an iconic 'cool' test pilot performance, he landed the shuttle with a fire in therear.
"I participated in many Space Shuttle Flight Readiness Reviews with John, and I will always remember him as the classic Georgia Tech 'amazing engineer' who had an uncanny ability to cut the heart out of a technical problem by asking the perfect question - followed by his iconic phrase, 'Just asking...'
"John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity. He was in every sense 'the astronaut's astronaut.' We will miss him."
For more information on Young's career at NASA, visit his profile by clicking here.