NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, managing Apollo 17 in 1972 and having spent more than 73 hours outside the ship on the lunar surface, died. He was 82 years old.
NASA and family members reported death on Monday.
Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17 - the third space flight and the final scheduled flight of the United States to the Moon in 1972.
“We are saddened by the loss of a retired NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last person to step on our satellite,” the US space agency wrote on Twitter.
According to a family statement issued by NASA, Cernan died after long-term health problems.
“Deeply saddened, we are experiencing the loss of a beloved husband and father,” the family said.
“Our family is heartbroken, and we thank everyone for the prayers. Eugene was, above all, a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend, ”they said.
“Even at the age of 82, he was eager to see how they would continue to explore space, and called on the leadership of our country and the youth not to stop such flights”.
The space community quickly responded to Twitter to pay tribute to Cernan and honor his legacy. “They are saddened by the loss of the pioneer and fellow flight crew # of the last man on the sea,” wrote retired astronaut Scott Kelly.
“Ad Astra, Eugene,” NASA’s Kennedy Space Center tweeted, using the Latin phrase “Through thorns to the stars.”
“We mourn the death of our friend Eugene Cernan, the last lunar rover and hero of the century,” wrote the National Air and Space Museum of the Smithsonian Institution. - “Bon voyage, commander of Apollo 17”.
The traces of Sernan left on the surface of the satellite remain visible more than four decades later.
“I just wanted to point out that the American challenge today forged the fate of the man of tomorrow,” said Eugene, when he left the satellite for the last time.
Cernan was born in 1934 in Chicago. In 1956, he earned a degree in electrical engineering from Purdue University, Indiana.
He returned and received a master's degree in aviation technology from the US Naval Postgraduate School in California.
Cernan was part of the 14 astronauts who decided to join NASA in 1963, and continued to serve on the missions of Gemini and Apollo.
He will spend 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, sending over 73 hours of reports from the lunar surface. Cernan retired from the Navy and NASA in 1976. He later entered the private business sector and made television commentary during the early flights of space shuttles.
“The Last Man on the Moon” is a documentary about his life, released in 2016.
The death of the moon rover occurred a month after the departure of another cosmic legend, John Glenn, the first American in Earth orbit.
In December, Glenn was the last of the first seven astronauts who accelerated the development of US space science in 1959.
The death of Cernan marks the departure of a generation of space pioneers, whose ranks are rapidly declining.
“America has lost a patriot and a pioneer who helped shape our country's ambitious ambitions to achieve what humanity has never accomplished,” said NASA administrator Charles Bolden.
Cernan has a wife, a daughter and two foster children, as well as nine grandchildren.