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Remembering astronaut legend Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon

FILE - In an undated file photo provided by NASA, US Navy Commander and Astronaut for the upcoming Apollo 17, Eugene Cernan, is pictured in his space suit. NASA announced that former astronaut Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, died Monday, Jan. 16, 2017, surrounded by his family. He was 82. (NASA via AP)

LISTEN: Dr. Sky with Harrison Schmidt

Gene Cernan, the commander of Apollo 17, the last mission to the moon, will be remembered as a pioneer of space travel. He died Monday.

Cernan had a long career as a military aviator and was one of the first astronauts to walk in space. He was aboard many of the early NASA rocket projects, from Gemini, to Apollo.

Cernan was the pilot aboard the Gemini 9, the lunar module pilot aboard Apollo 10 and commander of Apollo 17.

During his time on the moon with fellow astronaut and geologist Dr. Harrison Schmidt, they collected some 220 pounds of moon rocks and spent 73 hours on the lunar surface. Cernan was first on the surface, while Schmidt followed.

Upon return to the lunar module, Schmidt was the first to get back in, followed by Cernan, making him the last man on the moon!

It’s hard to believe that all this took place some 45 years ago.

Cernan was always pushing for more manned exploration of the moon.

“After Apollo 17, America stopped looking towards the next horizon,” he said. “The United States had become a space-faring nation, but threw it away. We have sacrificed space exploration for space exploitation, which is interesting but scarcely visionary”

Only 12 astronauts have ever walked on the moon.

With Cernan’s death, there are only six members still alive from this elite group of explorers.

We remember Cernan and all that he did to open our minds to the vast unknown…”Ad Astra”.

To follow the sky with Dr. Sky, get your January star chart.

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