Gene Cernan, an early NASA astronaut who was the last man to set foot on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16. He was 82.
The cause of death was not immediately known.
Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17 in December 1972 – the last lunar mission and one of the final Apollo flights. When he walked out from lunar module “Challenger” he became the 11th person to walk on the moon.
But as commander, Cernan was the last to re-enter the lunar module, thus giving him the title of being the last person to walk the moon.
Cernan had also previously served as the lunar module pilot on Apollo 10 and was a pilot on the Gemini IX mission.
On the Apollo 10 flight, Cernan and commander Tom Stafford flew to within eight miles of the surface of the moon. This served as a dress rehearsal for the historic Apollo 11 mission.
He also became the second American to walk in space on the Gemini IX mission in 1966.
Cernan logged a total of 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, of which 73 hours were spent on the surface of the moon, according to NASA.
Born in Chicago in 1934, Cernan received an electrical engineering degree from Purdue and a Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Cernan was selected in NASA’s third group of astronauts in 1963 while being a captain in the Navy.
Cernan retired from NASA and the Navy in 1976.
Cernan’s death leaves six astronauts remaining who have walked on the moon.
He leaves behind his wife and one daughter.