NASA said today that Eugene A. Cernan has died at the age of 82. Cernan was the spacecraft commander of Apollo 17, which launched on December 6th, 1972 and returned to Earth 13 days later. He had previously flown in space as part of the Gemini IX mission alongside Tom Stafford in 1966, and then as the lunar module pilot for Apollo 10 in 1969.
In total Cernan logged 566 hours and 15 minutes in space with more than 73 hours spent on the surface of the moon. When he departed the moon, he left it with some final words:
…America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow, 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.
So far, 45 years later, we have not yet returned, but hopefully we will one day soon. Godspeed, Gene Cernan.
— NASA (@NASA) January 16, 2017
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