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Eugene Andrew Cernan

record-setting space walker and last man on the Moon

NASA photo of Eugene Cernan

Biographical Data

Born March 14, 1934, in Chicao, Illinois

Married To Jan Nanna
Children three daughters


Proviso Township High School, Maywood, Illinois

Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering Purdue University, 1956
Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering U.S. Naval Postgraduate School

Honorary Doctorate of Law Western State University College of Law, 1969
Honorary Doctorate of Engineering Purdue University, 1970; Drexel University, 1977; Gonzaga University, 1978

Military Experience

Received his commission through the Navy ROTC Program at Purdue, and entered flight training upon graduation.
Attack Squadrons 26 and 112 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station.

Subsequently attended the Naval Postgraduate School.

NASA Career

Selected as an astronaut in October 1963.

Pilot of Gemini IX, June 3-6, 1966.
With Command Pilot Tom Stafford.
Used three different techniques to effect rendezvous with the previously launched Augmented Target Docking Adapter.
The second American to walk in space, he logged two hours and ten minutes outside the spacecraft in extravehicular activities, setting a record.

Cernan aboard Gemini IX
Cernan aboard Gemini IX

Backup Pilot for Gemini XII.
Backup Lunar Module Pilot for Apollo VII.

Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo X, May 18-26, 1969.
This was the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification flight test of an Apollo lunar module.
Joined by Thomas P. Stafford (Spacecraft Commander) and John W. Young (Command Module Pilot).

Backup Spacecraft Commander for Apollo XIV.

Spacecraft Commander of Apollo XVII, December 6-19, 1972.
The last scheduled manned mission to the Moon for the United States.
Began with the first ever manned nighttime launch.
Joined by Ronald Evans (Command Module Pilot) and Harrison H. "Jack" Schmidt (Lunar Module Pilot).
The mission established several new records for manned space flight that include: longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (an estimated 249 lbs.); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours 48 minutes).
Had the privilege and distinction of being the last man to have left his footprints on the surface of the Moon.
Was also one of only two men to have flown to the Moon on two separate occasions.

Cernan aboard the Lunar Landing Module
Cernan aboard the Lunar Landing Module

Cernan during his third Moon walk
Cernan during his third Moon walk

Became Special Assistant to the Program Manager of the Apollo spacecraft Program at the Johnson Space Center in September 1973.
Acted for the program manager as the senior United States negotiator in direct discussions with the USSR on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

Retired from both the Navy and NASA on July 1, 1976.

Post-NASA Career

Joined Coral Petroleum, Inc., of Houston, Texas, as Executive Vice President-International.

In September 1981, he established The Cernan Corporation, to pursue management and consultant interests in the energy, aerospace, and other related industries.

Chairman of the Board of Johnson Engineering Corporation, which has supported NASA in the design of crew stations for Space Shuttle, Spacelab, Space Station, Lunar Base, and Mars Outpost.


American Astronautical Society
Explorer's Club
Phi Gamma Delta (National Social Fraternity)
Sigma Xi (National Science Research Society)
Society of Experimental Test Pilots
Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering Society)

Honors and Awards

two NASA Distinguished Service Medals
NASA Exceptional Service Medal
JSC Superior Achievement Award
two Navy Distinguished Service Medals
Navy Astronaut Wings
Navy Distinguished Flying Cross
National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Special Trustees Award (1969)
Federation Aeronautique Internationale Gold Space Medal for 1972
Cities of Houston, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York Gold Medals
VFW National Space Medal in 1973
Daughters of The American Revolution Medal of Honor
Induction into the U.S. Space Hall of Fame
Challenger Center's "Salute to the U.S. Space Program" Honor
Slovak World Recognition Award
Slovak Presidential Medal of Honor

Johnson Space Center

Tom Stafford
John W. Young

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This page was last updated on 04/10/2018.