An early NASA Astronaut who was the last man to set foot on the moon has faced his demise on Monday. Gene Cernan’s death was announced by NASA in a tweet, the great Astronaut died at the age of 82 years. However, details of Cernan’s death were not immediately known.
During the last lunar mission and one of the final Apollo flights, Gene Cernan was the commander of the Apollo 17 in December 1972. As soon as Cernan stepped out from the lunar module ‘’Challenger’’ he was the 11th person to walk on the moon. Jack Schmitt was his lunar module pilot was the 12th person. While Cernan was the commander, he was the last to re-enter the lunar module. As a result, Cernan got the designation of the last man to walk on the lunar surface.
Cernan’s words after leaving the moon were not as famous as Neil Armstrong’s first sentence spoken from the moon. However, Cernan’s final goodbye to the moon was poetic in nature.
"…America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow," Cernan said. "And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus- Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."
In the 2007 documentary "In The Shadow Of The Moon," Cernan spoke of the epiphany he experienced while standing on the desolate – yet majestic – surface.
"There is too much purpose, too much logic, it was just too beautiful to happen by accident," Cernan said. "There has to be somebody bigger than you and bigger than me…And I mean this in a spiritual sense, not in a religious sense, there has to be a creator of the universe who stands above the religions that we ourselves create to govern our lives."
The outstanding astronaut has previously served as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 10 and was a pilot on the Gemini IX mission. During the Apollo 10 flight, Cernan and Commander Tom Stafford had a flight of eight miles in the surface of the moon. In what was meant to be a dress rehearsal, Cernan was part of the May mission for the historic Apollo 11 mission two months later.
In the Gemini IX mission in 1966, Cernan became the second American to walk in space. He logged 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, 73 of those hours were spent on the surface of the moon, as reported by NASA.
Cernan was born in Chicago back in 1934, he received an electrical engineering degree from Purdue and a Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. While serving as captain in the Navy, he was selected in the third group of astronauts in NASA, back in 1963. Following Cernan’s death, there are six astronauts remaining who walked on the moon.