Last Astronaut to Walk on Moon Dies

Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon died at the age of 82. Cernan was the second man to walk in space.

Cernan and fellow Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt became members of the most exclusive club in the universe on Dec. 11, 1972, when they stepped from their lunar landing module onto the moon’s surface.

Only 10 other people – all American astronauts – had done so before and none since.

For three days, the moon was home for Cernan and Schmitt. They rambled more than 19 miles (30 km) in their lunar roving vehicle and gathered more than 220 pounds (100 kg) of rocks during their 22 hours of exploration of craters and hills.

Cernan was 38 years old when he blasted off for the moon on Dec. 7, 1972, as commander of Apollo 17. With Ronald Evans orbiting above in the command module, Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, a geologist, rode the lunar lander to the moon’s surface four days later.

They explored for about seven hours each day and Cernan wrote that moonwalking was painful for him because he had injured a tendon in his leg two months earlier playing softball.

Apollo 17 was Cernan’s last flight as an astronaut after 566 hours and 15 minutes in space.

Cernan was born March 14, 1934, and grew up near Chicago. He was in the military officers training program at Purdue University, where he first met Neil Armstrong, who would become the first moonwalker.