Apollo 17 Commander Eugene Cernan and the U.S. flag on the lunar surface.
“Eugene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, 16 January 2017, surrounded by his family.
Cernan was one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He piloted the Gemini 9 mission with Commander Thomas P. Stafford on a three-day flight in June 1966. Cernan logged more than two hours outside the orbiting capsule.
In May 1969, he was the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification test of the lunar lander. The mission confirmed the performance, stability, and reliability of the Apollo command, service and lunar modules. The mission included a descent to within eight nautical miles of the moon's surface.
Cernan concluded his historic space exploration career as commander of the last human mission to the moon, in December 1972. Apollo 17 established several new records for human space flight, including the longest lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (nearly 249 pounds); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes).
On their way to the moon, the Apollo 17 crew took one of the most iconic photographs in space-program history, the full view of the Earth dubbed 'The Blue Marble.'
As he left the lunar surface, Cernan said, 'America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. 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.' ”
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