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Wednesday, July 22, 1998 Published at 16:02 GMT 17:02 UK

World: Americas

First US astronaut dies

The first American in space, Alan Shepard, has died in California at the age of seventy-four.

Mr Shepard made a brief sub-orbital flight in May 1961, shortly after the Soviet Union had launched the first man in space.

Alan Shepard, an officer in the US Navy, went on to command the third American manned flight to the Moon in 1971.

During that mission he became the only person to play golf on the lunar surface, hitting balls with a six-iron.

President Clinton called him one of the greatest American astronauts.

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