Eugene Cernan, last man to walk on the moon, dies aged 82

The former fighter pilot predicted that others would soon follow him

Andrew Buncombe
New York
Monday 16 January 2017 22:04
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Gene Cernan, last astronaut on the moon, dies aged 82

When Eugene Cernan stepped from the moon’s surface on December 17 1972, he had some words to say as he returned to the Apollo module.

“I’m on the surface, and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I'd like to just what I believe history will record: that America's challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow,” he said.

Cernan may have thought that others would soon follow in his path, but he was wrong. The former fighter pilot was the 11th person to walk on the moon’s surface, and he was also the last.

On Monday, NASA was revealed that Cernan had died. He was aged 82.

“We are saddened by the loss of retired NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon,” the US space agency said on Twitter.

Cernan, who was born in Chicago, served as as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17, the last scheduled manned mission to the moon for the United States.

The mission launched on December 6, 1972 and returned on December 19.

CNN said the mission established several new records for manned space flight, including the longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes), and longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes).

In statement, Cernan’s family said: “It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father. Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone's thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.

“Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation's leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the moon.”

Cernan is survived by his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter and son-in-law, Tracy Cernan Woolie and Marion Woolie, step-daughters Kelly Nanna Taff and husband, Michael, and Danielle Nanna Ellis and nine grandchildren.

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