United States astronaut John Young dies aged 87

"But, not content with that, his hands-on contributions continued long after the last of his six spaceflights-a world record at the time of his retirement from the cockpit".

Young joined the United States Navy and served on the destroyer USS Laws in the Korean War.

In 1959 he attended the U.S. Navy Test Pilot School, then spent three years at the Naval Air Test Center.

He became an astronaut in 1962, earning the distinction of being "the first person to fly in space six times from earth, and seven times counting his lunar liftoff", the biography said.

Young, who flew on the Gemini and Apollo missions as well as on the Shuttle, was born in San Francisco, but grew up in Georgia and Florida in the US.

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. He was the ninth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission in 1972 and commanded the first space shuttle mission in 1981. Young and Duke set up scientific equipment and explored the lunar highlands at Descartes. Two years later, he became chief of the Astronaut Office, and was famed for his numerous memos and unrelenting push to improve astronaut safety, particularly after the Challenger disaster in 1986.

Lightfoot's comments also noted that at the end of Young's final space flight in Columbia Dec. 8, 1983, "in an iconic display of test pilot 'cool, ' he landed the space shuttle with a fire in the back end".

NASA remembered the passing of a space pioneer, astronaut John Young.

"John truly was an American hero, and I felt so privileged to work for him when I got selected to be an astronaut in 1985", director of NASA's Kennedy Space Center Bob Cabana said.

He also held four honorary doctorate degrees, and in 1988 was an inductee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Young worked behind the scenes to mitigate the risk to future astronauts.

Young is survived by his second wife Susy Feldman, and his two children, John and Sandra, from his first marriage to Barbara White, which ended in divorce.