Yes, I am the last man to have walked on the moon, and that's a very dubious and disappointing honor. It's been far too long.
Eugene Andrew Cernan, best known as the last man to walk on the moon, was born in Chicago on March 14th, 1934. As a child he lived in its western suburbs of Broadview and Bellwood, and moved to Maywood, Illinois, from where he graduated high school.
In 1956, he received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at Purdue University. While he was studying there he joined the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta. He also went on to join the professional societies of Tau Beta Pi (National Engineering Society), and Sigma Xi (National Science Research Society.) He was part of the Navy's ROTC program at Purdue, and entered flight training school upon graduation. He logged over 5000 hours of flight time with Attack Squadrons 26 and 112, based from the Naval Air Station in Miramar, California.
Eugene was accepted into NASA's astronaut program in 1963. In 1964, he earned a Master's degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. While with NASA, he participated in three flights.
His first mission with NASA was as a pilot in 1966, on Gemini 9. On that flight, he became only the second American to walk in space, spending 2 hours and 9 minutes outside the capsule, a record at the time.
In 1969, he returned to space, this time aboard the Apollo 10 mission. The mission was basically a test run for the Apollo 11 mission two months later. It was the first time man had ever orbited the moon. They ran through all the systems used on the Apollo lander, up to the very last few minutes leading up to landing. The lander came within 16 kilometers of the lunar surface.
His last flight with NASA came in 1972, as commander of the Apollo 17 mission. While there, they set a few records on longest time spent on the moon, longest time spent outside of the lunar lander, and a few others. They left the moon after three days, with Cernan being the last to step back onto the lunar module named "Challenger." Apollo 17 was the last flight to the moon planned by NASA, which so far makes Cernan the last man to have walked upon the surface of the moon. For the record, the last words spoken on the surface of the moon are:
As we leave the Moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. As I take these last steps from the surface for some time to come, I'd just like to record that America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. Godspeed the crew of Apollo Seventeen
After that, he worked on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, as both a negotiator and on the development of hardware and systems on the joint American-Soviet venture.
He quit NASA in 1976, and went on to found The Cernan Corporation in 1981. To this day he is working as the Chairman and CEO of this company, which provides consulting for the energy and aerospace fields. He also recently became the Chairman of the Board of Johnson Engineering, which provides NASA with personnel on and off site at Johnson Space Center.
He has received a number of awards and honours, including honorary doctorates in engineering from the Universities of Purdue, Drexel, and Gongaza. In 1993, he was inducted into the Astronaut Hall of Fame, and in 2000 he was admitted into the Aviation Hall of Fame.
His autobiography, The Last Man on the Moon, was published by St. Martin's press in 1999.
He has a wife, Jan, three daughters, and one grandchild.
NASA. "Astronaut Bio: Eugene A. Cernan," NASA - Johnson Space Center <www.jsc.nasa.gov/Bios/htmlbios/cernan-ea.html> (October 24, 2001.)
Wikipedia. "Eugene Cernan," Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gene_Cernan> (October 6, 2005.)