NASA astronaut John Young, who flew first Space Shuttle mission, dies at 87

HOUSTON -- NASA astronaut John Young, who flew the agency's first Space Shuttle mission and walked on the surface of the Moon, has died. He was 87.

NASA shared photos on its Twitter account confirming the sad news saying, "We're saddened by the loss of astronaut John Young, who was 87. Young flew twice to the Moon, walked on its surface & flew the first Space Shuttle mission. He went to space six times in the Gemini, Apollo & Space Shuttle programs."

Young was an astronaut's astronaut. The first person to go to space six times, seven if you count his lunar liftoff.

Young, a Navy Test Pilot, was selected as an astronaut in 1962. He walked on the Moon in 1972, and piloted the first space shuttle flight, STS 1, Columbia, in 1981.

ABC News last interviewed Young in 2003, after the space shuttle Columbia accident. He showed us the space shuttle trainer in Building 9, were astronauts learn how to fly the orbiter.

When one of the flight instructors objected to us going in with a camera, Young stopped, looked at the instructor and said "I flew this, I wrote the manual, and that's that".

Not many people argued with Young.

Current Jonson Space Center Director Ellen Ochoa today said" It would be hard to overstate the impact that John Young had on human space flight. Beyond his well known and ground breaking missions through three programs he worked tirelessly for decades to understand and mitigate the risks that NASA astronauts face. He had our backs. "

Tributes poured in from is fellow astronauts.

Scott Kelly, a fellow Navy Pilot, wished him "Fair winds and following seas."

Terry Virts: "You were one of my heroes as an astronaut and your passion for space will be missed."

Chris Hadfield: "An astronauts astronaut, a fearless individual and a good friend. Godspeed."

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When asked about the risk of flying on the space shuttle Columbia for the first time in 1981, Young responded "Anyone who sits on top of the largest hydrogen-oxygen fueled system in the world, knowing they are going to light the bottom, and doesn't get a little worried, does not fully understand the situation."

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