Young, who went to space six times, died at his home in Houston following complications from pneumonia.
Young was also one of NASA's longer serving astronauts.
"Astronaut John Young's storied career spanned three generations of spaceflight; we will stand on his shoulders as we look toward the next human frontier".
Young retired from NASA in 2004 and lived in El Lago, Texas with his wife Susy. NASA administrator Robert Lightfood said.
"Barbara and I join our fellow Americans and many friends in the space community in mourning the loss of astronaut John Young. He was in every way the 'astronaut's astronaut'".
Young was born in San Francisco and grew up in Orlando. As a child, his favorite hobby was building model airplanes. After receiving a degree in aeronautical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1952, he entered the Navy and graduated from its test pilot school.
Young, a former Navy pilot, was part of the second group of astronauts the space agency hired, brought aboard in 1962 to add to the original Mercury Seven who'd been selected three years earlier. Then, after hearing President Kennedy's proposal in 1961 to land a man on the Moon and return him safely to Earth, he made a decision to take his love of flying even further.
Young's first time in space came in 1965 with the Gemini 3 mission that took him and astronaut Gus Grissom into Earth orbit in the first two-man US space jaunt.
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.
Young salutes the United States Flag as he leaps from the surface of the Moon near the lunar lander.
In an interview, after his retirement in 2004, he said that he considered himself "very lucky".