Farewell, Gene Cernan

Hi, everyone. It’s a sad day today. The world has lost Gene Cernan. He was 82. As the commander of Apollo 17 in 1972, he was the last man leave steps in the dust on the moon, and he was one of only three astronauts to fly to the moon twice. The first time was in 1969, aboard Apollo 10. He also flew aboard Gemini 9 in 1966.

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Gene Cernan (from NASA)

In the interviews I’ve seen, he’s always seemed like an incredible person. He was a person who had the technical and engineering skills needed to fly, and fly to the moon, but he also had a certain humor and poetry about him that, as a writer, I’ve always appreciated quite a bit. “It’s our destiny to explore. It’s our destiny to be a space-faring nation.”

I’ve always loved this story about him. Before he and Jack Schmidt packed up their things and headed for home at the end of Apollo 17, he stopped and scratched TDC, the initials his nine-year-old daughter, Tracy, into the dust. I’ve also heard it wasn’t true, but I don’t really care either way. It’s a wonderful thought; his daughter’s initials being there, theoretically forever. The story is a gift I’d love to be able to give my daughters.

The documentary “The Last Man on the Moon” was released in 2014, which tells his story. It’s a good one, and I’m going to watch it again as soon as I finish updating this post You can probably find it on any of your favorite streaming video services. It’s also on Netflix (this is not an ad), which isn’t in the list I’ve linked to there.

Farewell, Commander Cernan, and thank you. Rest in peace.

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