NASA astronaut John Young

“Yeah. I walked on the moon. So what.” Screencap from When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions. Motivation by John Watts Young. 

John Young, super badass of manned spaceflight, is a comedy genius and the master of the understatement. Here are a few examples of John’s tendency to be a bit…laconic. 

In the 2006 Discovery Channel documentary When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions, John is profiled throughout the program. How was it like to walk on the moon, John? “Yeah, I was on the moon.” Was it fun to drive the lunar rover, just you and Charlie Duke, upon the stark, boulder-strewn face of Descartes? “Yeah, it was fun.” He distills his entire experience on Apollo 16 – perhaps one of the most scientifically ambitious Apollo missions – into these few words. 

Here’s a choice quote from John in 1972, about driving the lunar rover upon more familiar terrain, the Earth: 

“I’m a terrible driver. To train us for the rougher terrain on this mission they prepared a sort of obstacle course at the Cape… they told me I was doing pretty good the other day. I only hit five logs, three rocks, an orange, and a lizard… I didn’t see the lizard.”  

One of my favorite instances of John’s “whatever…it wuz nuthin'” attitude can be gleaned from Gemini 10, a 1966 mission in which he successfully performed a docking maneuver using sight only with an Agena target. Mike Collins (later the command module pilot with Apollo 11, and writer of the finest astronaut autobiography, Carrying the Fire) also performed a spacewalk. 

During that mission, the guys experienced a certain amount of eye irritation, which they didn’t share with ground crews because they didn’t want to alarm anyone. When asked about this phenomenon later, John said, “I didn’t say anything about it because I figured I’d just be called a sissy.”


Emily Carney is a writer, space enthusiast, and creator of the This Space Available space blog, published since 2010. In January 2019, Emily’s This Space Available blog was incorporated into the National Space Society’s blog. The content of Emily’s blog can be accessed via the This Space Available blog category.

Note: The views expressed in This Space Available are those of the author and should not be considered as representing the positions or views of the National Space Society.


Picture of Emily Carney

Emily Carney

Leave a Comment

future 1

Don't Miss a Beat!

Be the first to know when new articles are posted!

Follow Us On Social Media


Give The Gift Of Space: Membership For Friends and Family

Book Review


ISDC 2024:

International Space Development Conference May 23rd-26th, 2024


Image of Kalpana One space settlement courtesy Bryan Versteeg, $32,000 in Cash Awards Given for Best Space-Related Business Plans — Deadline March 1, 2024

Category: Nonfiction Reviewed by: John J. Vester Title: Nuclear Rockets: To the Moon and Mars Author: Manfred “Dutch” von Ehrenfried Format: Paperback/Kindle Pages: 270 Publisher:

Partially Successful Flight Reached Space and Demonstrated New “Hot Staging” System The National Space Society congratulates SpaceX on the second test of its Starship/Super Heavy

Ad Astra, the NSS quarterly print, digital, and audio magazine, has won a 2023 MARCOM Gold Award. The awards are given yearly for “Excellence in

By Jennifer Muntz, NSS Member Coordinator On October 10th, an inspiring breakfast event took flight at the Center for Space Education at the Kennedy Space

By Grant Henriksen NSS Policy Committee Benefit sharing is a concept that refers to the distribution of benefits derived from the exploration and use of

People residing and working in space, space settlements, or on long-duration space flights will need to produce infrastructures and food to maintain healthy lifestyles. The

Image: Artist’s concept of the Blue Moon lander. Credit: Blue Origin. Second Human Landing System Contract Encourages Competition and Innovation The National Space Society congratulates