By Maharsh Barot, National News Writer
Across the nation, American flags were brought to half-mast to acknowledge and honor the passing of an American icon. Eugene Cernan, known as the last man to have left his footprints on the moon, passed away on Monday, January 16, 2017.
Eugene Andrew Cernan was born on March 14, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois, according to CNN.
He went on to attend Purdue University, where he received a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1956. Additionally, he received his commission from the United States Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) program.
After graduating, Cernan went on to undergo flight training and earn a Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the US Naval Postgraduate School located in Monterey, California.
As a Navy aviator, he logged in 5000 flying hours and 200 landings on aircraft carriers.
Eugene Cernan was one of 14 astronauts chosen by NASA for their Apollo program, the goal of which was to send men to the moon. The program was created to meet a challenge given by President John F. Kennedy in 1961.
Cernan went to the moon in different missions. Apollo Flight 10 tested the Lunar Module around the moon, in preparation for Apollo 11 which landed its crew of three on the moon in the first ever moon landing in 1969. He would later go on to become the last of 12 Americans to walk on the moon over the course of six lunar landings.
According to the BBC, only six of the 12 men that have ever walked on the moon are still alive today.
Among his other accomplishments include the distinction of being the second American to drift weightless around the earth on a tether, and having traveled into space three times.
On Cernan’s final mission to the moon in 1972, he went as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17. The mission holds the record for longest manned lunar landing flight and longest lunar surface extravehicular activities, according to the New York Times. It would become the last scheduled manned mission to the moon.
After retiring from the Navy after 20 years and ending his career with NASA, Cernan went on to become a businessman and television commentator. He passed away at the age of 82 due to ongoing health problems.
NASA has said in a statement on Twitter that they are “saddened” by his passing. He is survived by his wife, daughter, step-daughters, and nine grandchildren.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, January 24th print edition.
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