National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award

Captain John W Young

Captain John W Young | 2007

On February 28, 2007 Captain John W Young was honored as the recipient of the 2007 National Space Grant Distinguished Service Award for for his inspiring, lifelong commitment to space exploration. In September 1962, he was selected as an astronaut. He was the first person to fly in space six times from Earth, and seven times counting his lunar liftoff. The first flight was with Gus Grissom in Gemini 3, the first manned Gemini mission, on March 23, 1965. This was a complete end-to-end test of the Gemini spacecraft, during which Grissom accomplished the first manual change of orbit altitude and plane and the first lifting reentry, and Young operated the first computer on a manned spacecraft. On Gemini 10, July 18-21, 1966, Young, as Commander, and Mike Collins, as Pilot, completed a dual rendezvous with two separate Agena target vehicles. While Young flew close formation on the second Agena, Collins did an extravehicular transfer to retrieve a micro meteorite detector from that Agena. On his third flight, May 18-26, 1969, Young was Command Module Pilot of Apollo 10. Tom Stafford and Gene Cernan were also on this mission which orbited the Moon, completed a lunar rendezvous, and tracked proposed lunar landing sites. His fourth space flight, Apollo 16, April 16-27, 1972, was a lunar exploration mission, with Young as Spacecraft Commander, and Ken Mattingly and Charlie Duke. Young and Duke set up scientific equipment and explored the lunar highlands at Descartes.

Awarded the Congressional Space Medal of Honor (1981), 4 NASA Distinguished Service Medals, NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal (1992), NASA Exceptional Engineering Achievement Medal (1987), NASA Outstanding Achievement Medal (1994), Navy Astronaut Wings (1965), 2 Navy Distinguished Service Medals, 3 Navy Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Georgia Tech Distinguished Young Alumni Award (1965), Distinguished Service Alumni Award (1972), the Exceptional Engineering Achievement Award (1985), the Academy of Distinguished Engineering Alumni Award (1994), the American Astronautical Society Space Flight Award (1993), Distinguished Executive Award (1998), and the Rotary National Space Achievement Award (2000). Inducted into 6 Aviation and Astronaut Halls of Fame, and recipient of more than 80 other major awards, including 6 honorary doctorate degrees.

Dr. Thomas D. Jones, fellow astronaut and friend, received the award in Captain Young's absense. Dr. Jones is a scientist, author, pilot, and former NASA astronaut. He holds a doctorate in planetary sciences, and in more than eleven years with NASA, flew on four space shuttle missions to Earth orbit. On his last flight, Dr. Jones led three spacewalks to install the centerpiece of the International Space Station, the American Destiny laboratory. He has spent fifty-three days working and living in space.

He co-authored with Michael Benson The Complete Idiot's Guide to NASA, (Alpha, 2002). Tom's newest title is "Sky Walking: An Astronaut's Memoir," published in February 2006 by Smithsonian Books.

Dr. Jones' awards include the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, four NASA Space Flight Medals, the NASA Exceptional Service Award, the NASA Outstanding Leadership Medal, Phi Beta Kappa Award, and the Air Force Commendation Medal.

Dr. Jones is currently active in the debate over our nation's future space exploration policy. He consults, writes, and speaks from the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.