Moonwalker Down

eugene_cernanThe last man to leave his footprints on the surface of the Moon, Eugene A. Cernan, a crack naval aviator sought out and recruited by NASA as a Moon mission commander, has died today.  He was 82.
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Gene Cernan flew the LM on Apollo 10 down from orbit to fairly close to the lunar surface, (NOT landing) and then did it again on the mission he commanded, Apollo 17, in which he landed and spent three days on the surface.

A graduate of Purdue University’s Electrical Engineering School, he was very generous in his visits and time spent back at the University in later years. He spent many hours with aerospace engineering graduate students like me, answering questions about the technical aspects of his flights. I got to meet him on a number of occasions, and he was always very gracious, humble and rock solid, as one would expect from a naval aviator who slammed hurtling pieces of burning metal onto the decks of aircraft carriers about 200 times. Ice water flowed in his veins, and I was quite sure that he was one of those Apollo commanders for whom space flight was nothing to get excited about. Godspeed, Gene.

Cross-Posted at Nox & Friends.

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9 Comments

Filed under 'Murica, Space

9 responses to “Moonwalker Down

  1. Thanks for the post ‘Like’, Bluebird. Appreciate it.

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  2. I was sad to hear this yesterday. To think of how degraded we’ve become since he left the Moon. . . We could have established a presence on Mars already, if we hadn’t misspent the wealth the Lord blessed us with . . .

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  3. Ting

    I have not seen this new movie Hidden Figures, or Hidden Numbers, something like that, I have heard from so many different sorts of people that it is excellent. It is about 3 women who worked on the math calculations for NASA. I hope to see it soon because it puts me in mind of my late father in law. When I was deciding to major in math in 1972 (because it was easy and did not require any papers, which allowed me to graduate in 5 semesters of classes and one semester of student-teaching) he said – “You know, we put a man on the moon and it was because of one giant math problem.” I never liked the practical side of it, but I did love to solve those problems, every step of the way. I haven’t been inspired by anything as much as the Apollo missions.

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    • I know what you mean, Ting! Well said. Those women were at Langley Research Center down in Hampton, and the release was a really big deal there. I’m scared to see it, because I have to assume there will be some over-the-top racial stuff in there, but maybe not. Please let me know what you think when you see it.

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      • Ting

        Maybe so, but I haven’t heard about the racial stuff except that my UVA engineering graduate god-daughter said that Va. Tech would not let the ladies take the courses that they needed, but UVA did. She loved that because she watched the movie with her very liberal, very rah-rah VA Tech alum in-laws! 🙂

        I once heard that an astronaut had given a talk to a group of people and some of my friends attended. According to them, he was asked if the Apollo astronauts had some type of cyanide pill to take if things went awry and he kinda sorta confirmed it. I haven’t forgotten the kind of bravery it takes to go hurtling through the heavens and land on a place that you can’t live on without all that equipment, and just hope like the dickens that you can make it back. It takes a lot of trust in the engineers!

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