Astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the Moon, has died aged 82 in Texas, NASA has announced.
Eugene “Gene” Cernan, a retired Navy captain, was one of 14 astronauts that NASA chose in October 1963. His cause of death was not immediately known.
He piloted the Gemini 9 mission alongside command pilot Tom Stafford, and was the second American to walk in space.
Cernan was one of only two astronauts to fly to the moon on two occasions, the second time as commander of Apollo 17, the last mission to the moon. In total, Cernan spent more than 73 hours on the satellite’s surface.
Apollo’s moon-landing mission was on the surface for three days. Cernan and crewmate Harrison H. “Jack” Schmitt complete excursions to nearby craters and the Taurus-Littrow mountains.
“America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow,” he said as he left the lunar surface. “As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”
Born in Chicago, Cernan logged more than 5,000 flight hours before becoming an astronaut. After retiring from the space program in 1976, Cernan worked as an executive vice president of Coral Petroleum Inc. in Houston and later founded Cernan Corp., which provided management and consulting services in the aerospace and energy industries.
Cernan and his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, had three daughters and one grandchild.