CPT-USN Eugene A. ‘Gene’ Cernan (14 March 1934 - 16 Jan 2017)
Gemini 9, Apollo 10, and Apollo 17 astronaut, the last man to set foot on the surface of the moon, passed away today at the age of 82. Cernan, a rough, tough Naval Aviator, A-4 jock, became part of NASA Group 3 in 1963. Gemini 9 in June 1966, proved a harrowing experience for Gene, it was one that taught us many invaluable lessons about EVA in space, a crucial step to the moon. Apollo 10 in May 1969, was to be the final test of the LEM ascent and descent stages and of it’s guidance systems from lunar orbit, a vital test flight that paved the way to Apollo 11′s historic first landing later that year. Apollo 17, the last of the historic 6 Apollo Lunar missions, in December 1972, Gene was in role as Commander of the flight, piloting the LEM along side Harrison Schmitt, landing in the mountainous region of the Taurus-Littrow valley. Gene became the last human of only 12 to set foot on the Moon.
Astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man on the moon, wrote his daughter Tracy's initials, TDC, in the lunar dust "knowing those three letters would remain there undisturbed for more years than anyone could imagine"
Looking back, it sometimes seems unreal because we quit. We decided to stay home… It’s as if Kennedy reached out into the 21st century, grabbed a decade of time, slipped it neatly into the 1960s and 1970s, and called it Apollo. We went to the moon. Then we came home and here we are. We’re still home.
Eugene Cernan is photographed on the Lunar Roving Vehicle during his and Harrison Schmitt’s time at the Taurus-Littrow valley. Cernan holds the title of last astronaut to walk on the moon. Apollo 17 launched 41 years ago today.