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  • Writer's pictureMatt Russell

#63 - Eric Berger Chat & Tribute to John Young

Twinkle, twinkle Tabby's Star: Dips in brightness so bizarre. Could it be we've found ET? Nope, not yet. It's dust we see. (bummer)

Nadia Drake

The glass arcs that will let astronomers peer back millions of years are decades in the making

Toward the year 2018

Astronaut of the week!!!

John Watts Young

If you're a kid, you want to be an astronaut. If you're an astronaut, you want to be John Young

Born in San Francisco California in September 1930 a day after Ray Charles, the year of sliced bread. And the birth of Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, Mike Collins, and 10 more astronauts!!! At 18 months old he moved to Georgia and then to Orlando in Florida.


1952 John Young got his bachelor of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the unfortunately titled G.I.T or Georgia Institute of Technology.


In 1952 young joined the Nash naval reserve officers Training Corps, He became a fire officer on the Fletcher class Destroyer warship USS Laws and did a tour of duty in the Korean War. He then became a navy helicopter pilot and then joined a fighter squadron flying planes including the f9 “swept wing” cougar and one of my favourites the F-8 Crusader from the Supercarrier USS forrestal (first ship to support jet aircraft)

Young went on to become a test pilot flying planes like the crusader II and the F4 phantom II where he held several records for time to climb. Fellow astronaut and former NASA boss Charles Bolden describes young as simply awesome and that he was one of the best pilots he’d ever met, most people get into a plane but John Young wears his plane.

John Young joined NASA in 1962 as part of astronaut Group 2 (along with the likes of Neil Armstrong and James Lovell.) and was the first of that group to fly into space in Gemini 3 famously costing the US taxpayer millions of dollars, or so they said, by smuggling a corned beef sandwich on to the spacecraft and disrupting their test of space food.

Young then commanded Gemini 10 in 1966 with his pilot Michael Collins who went on to perform to spacewalks on that mission as they performed rendezvous with two Agena target vehicles

Young then went on to command Apollo 10 which will be heading for its 50th anniversary next year. Joining two other space Legends Thomas p Stafford and Gene Cernan they set off on a dress rehearsal for the actual moon landings and this time Young was the first person to pilot an Apollo spacecraft around the moon on his own about 8 miles from the lunar surface.. They returned to Earth in the capsule reaching a speed of 24,791 miles an hour on May the 26th 1969 and that capsule can be seen in the London Science Museum, the fastest manned vehicle of all time.

The support crew for this mission included Bruce McCandless who passed away only two weeks before Young.

Young van was slated for Apollo 13 as the backup commander and after the failure of that mission the crew were rotated and young became commander of Apollo 16 and while waiting for his mission studied very hard in geology. At the moon there was a problem once with the service module and gyro 2 would make the service module vibrate excessively. However, after six hours of tests and analysis, Houston decided that they had found a workaround and they were able to continue the mission. This time young got to go to the moon with Ken Mattingly flying the command module in lunar orbit. Charles Duke and young took 3 moonwalks on April 21st 22nd and 23rd 1972 in the Descartes Highlands

“I’m glad they got Old Brer rabbit here, back in the briar patch where he belongs”

Young was also the backup commander for Gene cernan on Apollo 17 after Dick Slayton had sacked the Apollo 15 crew for taking stamps on their journey.

Charlie Duke recalled this

"I found out from the flight surgeon that my heartbeat was 144. John's was 70."

John: "Yeah. Well I told him, I said mine is too old to go any faster."

We all know the truth though. John's was 70 because he was a stoic badass who didn't seem to get rattled by much of anything.

Young then became chief of the astronaut office after the retirement of first American in space Alan Shepard in 1974

On the 12th of April 1981 20 years exactly after Yuri gagarin's first ever human space flight John Young commanded and Robert Crippen piloted the very first Space Shuttle mission STS-1. Watching from red sector A was Canadian band Rush who would later go on to write the song Countdown featuring dialogue from young and Crippen. Transmissions from this flight also feature in the song hello Earth by Kate Bush.

It's still remains the only maiden testflight of a usa spacecraft to carry crew, even the Russian buran was totally automated on its Maiden, and only, flight. This takes real nerve and bravery. Especially considering on the first two shuttle flights they used ejection seats borrowed from the SR-71 Blackbird. And don’t even mention the HRSI tiles, Reagan didn’t attend as he was recovering from an assassination attempt 2 weeks before.

Onboard Columbia was Extravehicular Mobility Units for both Young and Crippen in the event of an emergency spacewalk. If such an event occurred, Crippen would go outside the orbiter, with Young standing by in case Crippen required assistance

This mission Orbited at about the height of the Space Station, but originally had been slated as a test of the Return To Launch Site (RTLS) abort scenario, but was seen as being extremely dangerous and, as a consequence, John Young overruled the proposal, “Let’s not practice Russian roulette, because you may have a loaded gun there.” and STS-1 went ahead as the first orbital mission.

Flying from Falcon Heavy’s current home Pad 39A, the Gagarin timing was coincidence as the launch had been scrubbed 2 days before after a computer glitch.

The STS-1 orbiter, Columbia, also holds the record for the amount of time spent in the Orbiter Processing Facility (OPF) before launch – 610 days, the time needed for the replacement of many of its heat shield tiles

Young landed the orbiter and siad in jest “Do I have to take it to the Hangar” Then kicked the tyres after waiting 45mins to get off.

The amount of noise and vibration produced by the Shuttle almost destroyed the craft.

A secret Satellitte took pictures of the orbiter in orbit to check the tiles, a manouvre completed by the astronauts without them knowing why!

Had they known about some of the damage done at takeoff, Young would have flown shuttle to a safe altitude and ejected, losing columbia on it’s maiden voyage.

3 people died from a nitrogen atmosphere in a countdown test for sts-1

Columbia flew the next four Shuttle missions.

In 1983 Young then flew the 6th mission of the space shuttle Columbia on sts9 and this was the first spacelab missions, ESA astronaut Ulf Merbold became the first non US citizen on Space Shuttle and West German to go into space and was the only astronaut we didn't get to talk to at estec . This was a record 6th space flight.

Young was supposed to fly again on St S61 to deploy the Hubble Space Telescope but the Challenger disaster earlier that year delayed NASA said schedule and young never went to space again

Young was very critical of NASA management regarding the Challenger disaster and in 1987 was controversially moved to become the assistant to the Johnson space centre director Aaron Cohen and retired in 2004 after working for NASA for 42 years, the longest serving Astronaut

"Young was the best engineer and best test pilot of all the astronauts of the early space age. Without question, he was the most important astronaut of the space shuttle era. He was the best ever chief of the Astronaut Office in Houston. Nobody matched him."--Alan L. Bean

"As the only astronaut to fly the Gemini, Apollo, "and" Space Shuttle ships, John's passion for safety was the signature emphasis (even obsession) of his career." Glynn S. Lunney

He logged more than 15,275 hours flying time in props, jets, helicopters, and rocket jets; more than 9,200 hours in T-38s; and 835 hours in spacecraft during six space flights

Young died on January 5, 2018, at his home in Houston of complications from pneumonia. He was 87


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