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John Young, the ninth man to walk on the Moon and the only man to fly a Gemini capsule, an Apollo capsule, and the space shuttle, passed away yesterday at the age of 87.
Young was the only spaceman to span NASA’s Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, and became the first person to rocket away from Earth six times. Counting his takeoff from the moon in 1972 as commander of Apollo 16, his blastoff tally stood at seven, for decades a world record.
He flew twice during the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s, twice to the moon during NASA’s Apollo program, and twice more aboard the new space shuttle Columbia in the early 1980s.
His NASA career lasted 42 years, longer than any other astronaut’s, and he was revered among his peers for his dogged dedication to keeping crews safe — and his outspokenness in challenging the space agency’s status quo.
Young captained the first shuttle Gemini flight and the first space shuttle flight, and also flew twice to the Moon, landing once.