NASA astronaut Eugene Cernan, Commander of the Apollo 17 lunar mission, is welcomed back to Earth by a US Navy Pararescueman, after splashdown in the Pacific Ocean, 19th December 1972.
NASA—Getty Images
By Eliana Dockterman
January 16, 2017

Eugene Cernan, the last human to leave his footprints on the surface of the moon, has died, NASA said Monday. He was 82 years old.

“We are saddened by the loss of retired NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon,” NASA said on Twitter.

In May 1969, Cernan acted as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10. The mission confirmed that a future expedition would be able to land on the moon, even descending to within eight nautical miles of the moon’s surface. the performance, stability, and reliability of the Apollo command, service and lunar modules. That same year, Apollo 11 deposited its first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

In a 2007 interview for NASA’s oral histories, Cernan said: “I keep telling Neil Armstrong that we painted that white line in the sky all the way to the Moon down to 47,000 feet so he wouldn’t get lost, and all he had to do was land. Made it sort of easy for him.”

He later served as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17 in 1972, the United States’ last manned mission to the moon, making him the last man to walk on the face of the moon.

Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com.

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