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.

sleep well among em’, Gene-o’

Astronaut Alan L. Bean, Lunar Module pilot for the Apollo 12 lunar landing mission, holds a container filled with lunar soil collected while exploring the lunar surface. Astronaut Charles “Pete” Conrad Jr., commander, who took this picture, is reflected in the helmet visor.

Credits: NASA


On this day in 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 made a “bull’s-eye landing” as they returned to Earth after a successful lunar mission. All Things Considered reported that the crew’s splashdown in the Pacific Ocean marked “the end of an era of man’s exploration of the moon.” Apollo 17 was NASA’s final crewed lunar landing mission; humankind has not walked on the moon since.

Image: NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan is welcomed back to Earth after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, December 19,1972. Credit: NASA/Getty Images

Apollo 9 Performs First Rendezvous & Re-Docking with LM Ascent Stage (7 March 1969) — The Lunar Module (LM) “Spider” ascent stage is photographed from the Command and Service Modules (CSM) on the fifth day of the Apollo 9 Earth-orbital mission. While astronaut David R. Scott, command module pilot, remained at the controls in the CSM “Gumdrop,” astronauts James A. McDivitt, Apollo 9 commander; and Russell L. Schweickart, lunar module pilot, checked out the “Spider.” The LM’s descent stage had already been jettisoned.


First Woman in Space, Valentina Tereshkova

The Tereshkova Crater is a small lunar crater on the dark side of the moon near the Sea of Moscow. Identified during the Soviet lunar missions the crater is named for Valentina Tereshkova, who has the distinction of being both the first female and first civilian in space as pilot of the Vostok 6 mission. Valentina Tereshkova made her historic flight on this day, June 16, 1963.

The Apollo 13 Service Module photographed by the crew following CSM separation, April 17, 1971. Three days prior, on April 13, an oxygen tank in the Service Module ruptured due to a short circuit, causing significant damage to the spacecraft and an aborted Lunar Landing mission.

Up until recently, only one photograph of the damaged service module was in widespread publication:

With NASA’s publication of over 8,400 Apollo program images, the other photographs in the sequence are now available. New Horizons team member Alex Parker processed the set and combined them into the above gif.

Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17 salutes the flag on the lunar surface during extravehicular activity (EVA) on NASA’s final lunar landing mission. The Lunar Module “Challenger” is in the left background behind the flag and the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) also in background behind him. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the Challenger to explore the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon, astronaut Ronald E. Evans, Command Module pilot, remained with the Command/Service Module (CSM) “America” in lunar-orbit.


Apollo 17 Re-Docks with the Command Module (14 Dec. 1972) — In this view, taken from the Lunar Module (LM), the Command and Service Module (CSM) are seen preparing to rendezvous with the LM. Note the reflection of the lunar surface on the CSM. The CSM, is piloted by Ronald E. Evans; while astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, commander; and Harrison W. Schmitt, lunar module pilot, are onboard the LM, following their extravehicular activities (EVA) on the moon’s surface. While astronauts Cernan and Schmitt descended in the LM “Challenger” to explore the Taurus-Littrow region of the moon, astronaut Evans remained with the CSM “America” in lunar orbit.