John Young, one of only 12 people to have walked on the Moon, has died aged 87, NASA has announced.
Young is the only USA astronaut to go into space as part of the Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programmes and the first to fly into space six times, said NASA.
Forty-three years ago, Young - then a Navy test pilot - tuned in on a small, black-and-white television at the Naval Air Test Center in Florida as President John Kennedy addressed the nation. "Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier", NASA Administrator Robert Lightfoot said.
"Earth's geologic history is pretty clear: It says, quite frankly, that single-planet species don't last", Young said, according to a 2004 Houston Chronicle story.
Young was the longest serving astronaut, who worked with NASA for 42 years.
Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, Mr Young maintained Nasa should be developing massive rockets to lift payloads to the moon to industrialise it, he said, and building space systems for detecting and deflecting comets or asteroids that could threaten Earth.
In his autobiography, he revealed that he felt responsible for the shuttle accidents of the Challenger (1986) and Columbia (2003).
Legendary astronaut, moonwalker John Young has died
On Apollo 10, in May 1969, Nasa performed what it called "a full dress rehearsal" for landing men on the moon two months later.
Young was reassigned in 1987 as special assistant for engineering, operations and safety at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, a move he viewed as punishment for his outspokenness. He retired in 2004.
From there, Young joined the Apollo program, where he was assigned to the Apollo 7 backup crew as the Command Module Pilot, along with astronauts Thomas Stafford and Eugene Cernan. But he was also described as a savvy engineer and a "test pilot's test pilot".
"To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher", the statement read.
Young's passing fell on the same day as George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush's 73rd wedding anniversary.
He added: "John leaves a tremendous legacy of accomplishment, in addition to his wonderful family".
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