Eugene Cernan, known by the name, Gene, was the last visitor to moon. Credits: NASA

NASA’s manned mission to moon was a breakthrough in the history of space science. Soon after the first man on this daring mission, Neil Armstrong, Apollo Astronaut Capt. Eugene Cernan, set out to moon.  He became the last man to walk on moon. He passed away on 16 January, 2017 due to health issues.

Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17 salutes the flag on the lunar surface during EVA on NASA’s final lunar landing mission.

Gene, as he is known by many, was a Captain in the U.S. Navy. Flying three times in space, out of which two were to moon, he became the last man to leave his footprints there. He also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space.

Cernan was born on 14 March 1934 in Chicago. He graduated from Proviso East High School in the year 1952. He served as a member of Phi Gamma Delta fraternity in Purdue University. Cernan completed his Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering in 1956. He has trained himself in flight and naval.

His career at NASA started soon after earning a M.S. degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. In October, 1963 he was one among the 14 astronauts selected by the NASA. During June 1966, he piloted the Gemini 9 mission where he logged more than two hours outside the orbiting capsule. In May 1969, he piloted the lunar module of Apollo 10.

The image of the Earth captured by the crew, in 1972. It is known as the “Blue Marble”
Credits: NASA

Cernan concluded his space voyage as the commander of the last manned-mission to the moon in December 1972. En route to moon, he captured an image of Earth. This image is known as the “Blue Marble”. The records of Apollo 17 include, longest lunar landing, longest lunar surface EVAs and largest lunar sample return. His mission with his crew mate, Harrison Schmitt, is so far the longest time spent in the lunar orbit, which approximates around 147 hrs and 48 minutes. On July 1, 1976, he retired from the Navy and ended his NASA career.

His family confirmed his sad demise on Monday, and stated that he always wanted today’s generation to continue the legacy and not to let him remain the last man to walk on the moon. NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden said, “Gene Cernan, Apollo astronaut and the last man to walk on the moon, has passed from our sphere, and we mourn his loss.”

The last line, in his book, The Last Man on the Moon, where he speaks to his grandchild, reads, “Your Poppie went to Heaven. He really did”. The last man to walk on moon breathed his last in a hospital at Houston on 16 January 2017.


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