Gene Cernan, commander of Apollo 17 and the last astronaut on the moon, was also the second person to walk in space in 1966 as a pilot on Gemini 9. He retired from the Navy in 1976 and later started an aerospace consulting company in Houston.
Gene Cernan, a NASA astronaut who was the last man to set foot on the moon, died on Monday, NASA announced in a tweet. He was 82.
Details of Cernan death is not immediately known.
We are saddened by the loss of the retired NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man on the moon. https://t.co/Q9OSdRewI5 pic.twitter.com/gPdFTnXF2C
— NASA (@NASA) January 16, 2017
Cernan was commander of Apollo 17 in December 1972 – the last moon mission and one of the last Apollo flights. When Cernan stepped up from the lunar module “Challenger” he was the 11th person to walk on the moon. His lunar module pilot, Jack Schmitt was the 12th. But as a commander, Cernan was the last to re-enter the lunar module, which gave him the designation of the last person to walk on the lunar surface.
His words are not as famous as Neil Armstrong, the first sentence spoken from the moon, however, Cernan, the final farewell of the moon was just so poetic.
“…America’s challenge of today has led to the destination of the man of tomorrow,” Cernan said. “And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus – Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all people. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”
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Gene Cernan, the commander of the last moon landing, tells his story in the new documentary, “The Last Man on the Moon.”
In 2007, the documentary “In The Shadow Of The Moon,” Cernan said of the revelation he experienced while standing on the ferocious — yet majestic — surface.
“There is too much purpose, too much logic, it was just too beautiful to happen by accident,” Cernan said. “There is somebody bigger than you and bigger than me…And I mean this in a spiritual sense, not in a religious sense, there is a creator of the universe, who stands above the religions we create to govern our lives.”
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Eugene Cernan salutes the American flag during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
Cernan had previously served as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 10 and was a pilot of the Gemini IX mission.
On the Apollo 10 flight, Cernan and Commander Tom Stafford flew to within eight kilometers of the surface of the moon. The mission Can be served as a “dress rehearsal” for the historic Apollo 11 mission two months later.
Cernan was the second American to walk in space on the Gemini IX mission in 1966.
We mourn the loss of our dear friend Gene Cernan, the Last Man on the Moon and a hero for the ages. Godspeed, the Commander of the Apollo 17. pic.twitter.com/pRQtpkQkW6
— SmithsonianAirSpace (@airandspace) January 16, 2017
Cernan logged 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, of which 73 hours were spent on the surface of the moon, according to NASA.
Born in Chicago in 1934, Cernan received a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue and a Masters of Science in aerospace engineering from the U. S. Naval Postgraduate School. A captain in the Navy, he was selected in NASA’s third group of astronauts in 1963.
He retired from NASA and the Navy in 1976.
Cernan’s death leaves six astronauts remaining who walked on the moon.