Saturday, January 23, 2010

John Young - Super Astronaut

John Watts Young is a name every space aficionado should know very well. I'll go even further and say it should be a name people recognize at least as well as Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. I am personally guilty of not having this name on the tip of my tongue until recently.

Searching for some astronaut statistics I stumbled on the name in this Wikipedia page. Out of the 547 astronauts and cosmonauts listed, his name stood out initially as it was bold (which on the particular page means landed on the moon). I decided to read about him and I realized the uniqueness of his NASA career.

Why is John W. Young so important? The answer is simple - he is the only astronaut to fly in Gemini, Apollo and the space shuttle manned space-flight programs. In addition, John made two trips to the moon, Apollo 10 as the command module pilot and Apollo 16 as the ninth man to walk on the moon. He was also the commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission aboard the space shuttle Columbia. STS-1 was the first fully integrated test of the shuttle program. His career was one of firsts - first to fly to space six times, first to orbit the moon alone (Apollo 10), first to pilot and command the space shuttle, and even first to smuggle a sandwich to a mission...

Information about him is in abundance on the internet:
Biography on
NASA article about John's retirement:
A site dedicated to John Young:

One thing I haven't been able to do yet is reach John for his view about the post shuttle era. There is very little mentioned about him beyond his retirement in 2004. I asked a few of space related sites and former astronauts but came up with nothing.

I'll leave you with John's interesting essay from 2003 called The Big Picture - Ways to Mitigate or Prevent Very Bad Planet Earth Events. Captain Young, if you ever browse the blogosphere and happen to land on this page, your insight and wisdom would be most welcome!

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