He also commissioned the first mission of the American Space Shuttle in 1981. However, that was just one of a series of achievements.
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. 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.
Young began his career at NASA in 1962, when he was selected from hundreds of young pilots to join NASA's second astronaut class. According to media reports, Young smuggled a corned beef sandwich in his spacesuit, a move that didn't sit well with NASA staff in Houston who anxious about the crumbs.
During this career spanning three generations of spaceflight, he spent a total of 835 hours in space.
Young was the first person to travel to space six times and the ninth of 12 scientists to set foot on the lunar surface. "He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut'".
In 1972, Young landed on the Moon himself during the Apollo 16 mission. "To us, he represented the best in the American spirit - always looking forward, always reaching higher". "May his memory serve to inspire future generations of explorers to dare greatly, act boldly and serve selflessly".
"Saddened for the loss of former astronaut colleague John Young - the astronauts' astronaut, a true legend", Scott Kelly tweeted.
Young was born in San Francisco California but grew up in Georgia, Florida.
He joined the Navy, serving on a destroyer before becoming a pilot in 1959. He served as chief of NASA's astronaut corps from 1974 to 1987, overseeing 25 shuttle flights during the program's formative years.
When asked what moment in his career was most memorable at his retirement from NASA in 2004, he replied, "I liked them all".