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USA astronaut John Young, who walked on the moon in 1972 and was the only person to fly with three NASA space programs, has died aged 87.

Young's impressive career at NASA began in 1962 when he was selected from among hundreds of young pilots to join NASA's second astronaut class, known as the "New Nine".

Saddened for the loss of former astronaut colleague John Young - the astronauts' astronaut, a true legend. He flew to the moon twice and walked on its surface, according to NASA officials.

He also commissioned the first mission of the American Space Shuttle in 1981.

In NASA's history, few astronauts were more accomplished than John Young. 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.

USA astronaut John Young dies aged 87

While Young retired from NASA in 2004, he remained a constant figure at the agency, Young remained at NASA until 2004, when he retired at the age of 74. Details about his death were not immediately released.

Former president George HW Bush said: "John was more than a good friend; he was a fearless patriot whose courage and commitment to duty helped our nation push back the horizon of discovery at a critical time".

Robert Crippen, Young's co-pilot on Columbia's successful maiden voyage in 1981, told The Associated Press that flying with Young was "a real treat". "Anybody who ever flew in space admired John", he said. NASA promoted him to Chief of the Space Shuttle Branch of the Astronaut Office in 1973, and then the entire Astronaut Office, which oversees training and operations of the Astronaut corps.

His May 1969 Apollo 10 mission served as a "dress rehearsal" for the historic Apollo 11 mission two months later in which Neil Armstrong became the first person to walk on the moon. 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". "May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly, and serve selflessly". He was graduated from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.

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