Today in History: Last Man to Walk on the Moon

Today in History: Last Man to Walk on the Moon

by M.C. Millman

American astronaut, Captain Eugene Cernan has been the last man to have walked on the moon since  December 14, 1972.

Cernan arrived on the moon at 1:54 p.m. on December 11 of the same year. He piloted Challenger, Apollo 17's lunar module, on the surface of the moon into the Taurus-Littrow valley, near the Sea of Serenity. During his three-day tour of the moon, Gene visited Sculptured Hills and the Van Serg and Sherlock craters. 

After etching his daughter's initials in the moon dust, where they still remain today, Gene took his leave after being one of only three people in history to have ever visited the moon twice. 

"And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow," Gene said to Mission Control in Houston before departure, "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."

But there was no return to the moon, not for Cernan or any other person thus far. 

"It was perhaps the brightest moment of my life, and I can't go back," he said. "I am one of only twelve human beings to have stood on the moon. I have come to accept that and the enormous responsibility it carries, but as for finding a suitable encore, nothing has ever come close."

Cernan appealed to President Obama in 2010, along with Neil Armstrong, the first man on the moon, to send astronauts back to the moon. The plea went unanswered, leaving Cernan, who died at age 82 on January 16, 2017, as the last human to have walked on the moon's surface.

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