Young died Friday night following complications from pneumonia, the USA space agency said in a statement. "But, not content with that, his hands-on contributions continued long after the last of his six spaceflights - a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit". NASA administrator Robert Lightfood said.
We mourn the passing of astronaut John Young, who began his career with us in 1962, when he was selected from hundreds of young pilots for our second astronaut class. "John Young was at the forefront of human space exploration with his poise, talent, and tenacity".
Across a 42-year career at NASA, Young was a relentless advocate for flight safety, firing off countless memos that occasionally made him a thorn in the side of NASA management, especially in the wake of the 1986 Challenger disaster. He went on to study aeronautical engineering at Georgia Tech, where he graduated with highest honors in 1952.
He joined the Navy, serving on a destroyer before becoming a pilot in 1959. Then, after hearing President Kennedy's proposal in 1961 to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth, he made a decision to take his love of flying even further.
Astronaut Terry Virts tweeted: "Rest In peace John Young". He was part of the Apollo 10 crew that orbited the moon in May 1969 in preparation for the first landing later that year.
In 1972, Young landed on the Moon himself during the Apollo 16 mission.
In 1981, he served as Commander of STS-1, the first space shuttle mission, which some have called "the boldest test flight in history". It was the first time NASA had ever launched a manned mission without first testing unmanned versions of the same vehicle.
He retired from NASA in 2004.