He ruled the Gemini 10 mission, in July 1966. In pair another pilot Mike Collins they managed two vehicles and Collins walked the space to put away a micrometeorite sensor from one of those vehicles.
He as one of the main pilots during the Apollo 10 missions, co-piloted the spacecraft with his prominent colleagues Gene Cernan and Tom Stafford. They reached needed landing locations and took part in Apollo 11 rehearsals and landed again 2 months after this.
In April ’72 he went for another flight as a commander of Apollo 16 mission. Ken Mattingly was flying in the command module while Young and his co-pilot Charlie Duke made a landing in the Descartes highlands. They were out of their schedule for 20 minutes when they landed, so Young, as a commander, made everything possible to come back to the rhythm, as every minute on the Moon is different and precious.
The team installed all the needed scientific tools and equipment and started their exploration. It was extremely useful mission which brought back approximately two hundred pounds of lunar material from three exploration walks for further research.
Young was a pioneer, and it was more than once. One of his most impactful pioneering was in April 1981, when he was in charge of Space Shuttle Columbia. The thing with this flight was that it has never been tested in the orbit, so it was a huge risk to go to the outer space without such testing. Together with Robert Crippen, John Young successfully held more than 130 spaceflight goals during approximately 55 hours.
In ‘83, he was in charge of STS-9, the first launch of Spacelab. It was a really exhausting mission, it consisted of 10 days, and crew-members had duty to work for 12 hours one after another. STS-9 mission conducted more than seventy experiments, and this one mission produced more scientific information than the Apollo missions altogether.
Apart from his main 6 missions, John Young was a great backup crew pilot. He spent thousands of hours of training time as well as practical flight time. As for the time he spent in outer space, it equals to 835 hours.
1973 became a historical year for John Young, as he continued his career as chief of the Space Shuttle Branch. One year later, after he retired from Navy (with successful 25-year career) he got a title of chief of Astronaut Office and worked there 11 years. Though he held an administrative position, all this time he was eligible for flights and remained an active astronaut.
John Young honor-list involved following titles
- three NASA Distinguished Service Medals;
- the Georgia Tech Distinguished Young Alumni Award;
- three Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses;
- the Congressional Space Medal of Honor;
- the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal;
- the American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award;
- two Navy Distinguished Service Medals;
- the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award.
And this was only the extract of the main honors, as John Young had 80 honors gained through his cosmic career. He got 4 PhD degrees cum laude. In 1988 his name was engraved into National Aviation Hall of Fame.
He retired from NASA in 2004, till his last day he believed himself to be really lucky, and he appreciated every moment of his Earth and outer space life.