Eugene Cernan

80th Birthday

Harrison Schmitt - NASA Astronaut (Apollo 17)
July 3, 1935

Harrison Hagan “Jack” Schmitt is an American geologist, retired NASA astronaut, university professor and former U.S. senator from New Mexico.

In December 1972, as one of the crew on board Apollo 17, Schmitt became the first member of NASA’s first scientist-astronaut group to fly in space. As Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions, he also became the twelfth person to set foot on the Moon, and as of 2015, the second-to-last person to step off of the Moon (he boarded the Lunar Module shortly before commander Eugene Cernan). Schmitt also remains the first and only professional scientist to have flown beyond low Earth orbit and to have visited the Moon. He was influential within the community of geologists supporting the Apollo program and, before starting his own preparations for an Apollo mission, had been one of the scientists training those Apollo astronauts chosen to visit the lunar surface.

Schmitt resigned from NASA in August 1975 in order to run for election to the United States Senate as a member from New Mexico. As the Republican candidate in the 1976 election, he defeated the two-term Democrat incumbent Joseph Montoya, but, running for re-election in 1982, was himself defeated, by Democrat Jeff Bingaman.  [READ MORE]

Photo:  Wikipedia


Last Men on the Moon

On December 19 1972—41 years ago today—Apollo 17 splashed back down on Earth in the South Pacific ocean. It was the last of six lunar landings during the Apollo program, and its return to Earth marked the program’s end. Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent three days exploring the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley and taking samples of moon rock and soil–Schmitt was the first geologist and professional scientist on a NASA mission, and he was also the twelfth and final man to walk on the moon. After their lunar module, the Challenger, lifted off the surface of the moon, a statement from the White House was radioed to the astronauts: "We are conscious not of what we leave behind, but of what lies before us. This may be the last time in this century that men will walk on the moon, but space exploration will continue, the benefits of space exploration will continue, and there will be new dreams to pursue, based upon what we have learned.“ No human has set foot on another celestial body for 41 years.

(Image Credit: 1, 2)

Earth, as seen by astronauts Eugen Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmidt from Apollo 17.

On December 19, 1972 the astronauts of Apollo 17 landed safely in the Pacific.  It was the last of the Apollo lunar manned missions.

During the mission, the astronauts collected a lunar sample which Cernan described as, “a rock composed of many fragments, of many sizes, and many shapes, probably from all parts of the Moon, perhaps billions of years old.”

Following Apollo 17’s return to Earth, President Nixon asked that fragments of the rock be sent as gifts to other nations and each U.S. state.  Almost 300 “Goodwill Moon Rocks” were distributed.  Many of these have gone missing and efforts continue to locate the lost Goodwill Moon Rocks. 


The Last Man on the Moon: Great 30 minute interview with Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan


Most people can name the first astronaut to walk on the Moon. But how about the last?

42 years ago today, Eugene Cernan became the last person to step off of the lunar surface—where he carved his daughter’s initials. The Last Man on the Moon explores his story through interviews and rare footage.

“I’ve been tired of being called ‘the end’. Apollo 17 is not the end. It’s just the beginning of a whole new era in the history of mankind.”

via Astronomika