Former NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan dies aged 82

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Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Eugene Cernan.
Image: NASA.

Eugene Cernan, former NASA astronaut and the most recent human to walk on the Moon, died on Monday aged 82, according to a NASA statement. Cernan, who commanded the Apollo 17 mission to the Moon in 1972, was in Houston, Texas, at the time of his death.

Cernan, who was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 14, 1934, earned engineering degrees from Purdue University in 1956 and the Naval Postgraduate School in 1963. He was an aviator in the United States Navy and logged more than 200 landings on aircraft carriers before becoming an astronaut in 1963. He flew in space for the first time aboard Gemini 9 in 1966. In 1969 Cernan flew aboard Apollo 10, a flight to the Moon that rehearsed a descent but purposefully did not land in preparation for the Apollo 11 landing. Cernan's final flight into space was as commander of Apollo 17, the final lunar landing mission of the Apollo program, in which he spent three days exploring the lunar surface along with Harrison Schmitt.

Following Apollo 17, Cernan worked on the Apollo-Soyuz project before retiring from NASA and the Navy in 1976. In his later years he became an executive and consultant, wrote an autobiography, and advocated for returning to the Moon along with Neil Armstrong, the first human to walk on the Moon, who died in 2012.

"Truly, America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country's bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved," NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said in a statement.


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