John Young was a NASA astronaut and engineer. He was born as John Watts Young on September 24, 1930 in San Francisco, California but was raised in Orlando, Florida. After high school, Young went to the Georgia Institute of Technology and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor of Science degree in aeronautical engineering. After his graduation, he entered the United States Navy and served as a Fire Control Officer on the USS Laws. He also completed a tour in the Korean Seas.
About ten years later, Young joined NASA. He was the first of Astronaut Group 2 to fly into space. He, alongside Virgil Grissom, made the first manned flight of the Gemini spacecraft, and they even smuggled a corned beef sandwich onto the spaceship. Young was then trained to serve as a backup pilot for Gemini 6, but after he got caught sneaking the sandwich on board, NASA just didn’t know what to do.
Young’s next assignment was with the backup crew on Apollo 7, and then he flew to the Moon on Apollo 10 with fellow astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan. During the flight, Stafford and Cernan flew the lunar module while Young flew the command module solo, which made him the first person to do so in lunar orbit. Apollo 13 put Young as a backup commander, but the mission had some problems with an explosion on the service module, so they had to cancel their planned lunar landing. Young played a big part in rescuing the Apollo 13 crew. By rotation, Young was assigned commander of Apollo 16, which sparked his interest in studying geology. Even though the mission had a malfunction, they were able to safely land on the Moon, and Young became the ninth person to walk on the Moon. His last assignment in Apollo was as the backup commander on Apollo 17. In 1972, Young became head of the Astronaut Office.
After the Apollo program was over, Young stayed with NASA as an astronaut and ended up flying two missions for the Space Shuttle. Young worked for NASA for 42 years, and he retired on December 31, 2004. However, Young still attends the Monday Morning Meeting in the Astronaut Office at Johnson Space Center.
All in all, Young had one of the longest, diligent, and most diverse careers any astronauts. He is one of three people who have been to the Moon twice. He is also one of the only people to have driven the Lunar Roving Vehicle on the Moon. Young has left a big legacy.