The longest-serving astronaut retires

Gemini 3A veteran of the Gemini, Apollo and shuttle programs, 74-year-old astronaut John Young retires from NASA, capping off a 42-year career with the space agency. Young joined NASA in 1962 after hearing President Kennedy’s historic directive to launch a manned mission to the moon, and only three years later Young flew with Mercury veteran Gus Grissom on Gemini 3, the first manned two-person NASA mission. Young commanded Gemini 10 in 1966, was the command module pilot for the moon-orbiting Apollo 10 mission, and in 1972, Young commanded Apollo 16, landing in the moon’s mountainous Descartes region. Young commanded the first space shuttle mission, the maiden flight of Columbia in 1981, and commanded the ninth shuttle flight in 1983. Young had also served as the Chief Astronaut, determining crew assignments and making personnel decisions. In the wake of the Challenger disaster in 1986, Young became one of NASA’s most outspoken critics, and was reassigned to the position of special assistant for engineering, operations and safety – a move he regarded as a political one.