Young was born on September 24, 1930, in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando, Florida.
"He would go into meetings with the specialists for a particular system and he would say in this kind of country-boy way, 'Well, you know, I don't understand much about the such and such but what gets me is.' and then he would proceed to ask just a completely penetrating technical question that would just, you know, flatten these people", said Chaikin. He showed us the space shuttle trainer in Building 9, were astronauts learn how to fly the orbiter.
Once the USA had beaten the Soviet Union's cosmonauts to the moon and funding dried up, Young pushed NASA to return to the moon or venture to Mars, to provide the human race with a backup home in the event of Earth's destruction.
He was part of the first manned Gemini mission - with Gus Grissom on Gemini 3 in 1965.
He also once famously smuggled a corned beef sandwich on to a space flight as a gift for a fellow astronaut.
In 1969, Young was the commander of the Apollo 10 flight to the Moon, a preparation flight for the eventual Apollo 11 Moon landing several months later. The two spent nearly three days in space, completing 43 orbits of Earth.
Unsafe wind chills Saturday morning - cold here to stay
As sunrise on Saturday nears, a bit of light snow may develop across the area, especially for points west of the Lehigh Valley. New Year's Eve night will be one of the coldest in recent memory with temperatures around 5° as the clock strikes midnight.
Young began his career at NASA in 1962, when he was selected from hundreds of young pilots to join NASA's second astronaut class. He spent three lunar nights on the surface and drove more than 25km in a lunar rover. On his record-setting sixth and last spaceflight, when he flew the first Spacelab module into orbit aboard the Space Shuttle, he both avoided a mid-flight disaster and landed while an auxiliary power unit was on fire.
After his return to Earth, the shuttle would become Young's next focus.
Young was an aeronautical engineer who later in his NASA career served as the chief of the astronaut office, choosing those who would fly on the shuttle. He was best known as the commander of the first Space Shuttle mission, taking Columbia into orbit in 1981. He later served as Special Assistant to the Director of Johnson Space Center for Engineering, Operations, and Safety.
Retired Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield echoed that on Twitter, saying "John Young is one of my heroes, an astronaut's astronaut, a fearless individual and a good friend".
Young's first time in space came in 1965 with the Gemini 3 mission that took him and astronaut Gus Grissom into Earth orbit in the first two-man USA space jaunt.
The space agency said in a statement that Young died Friday night following complications from pneumonia.