Eugene Andrew ‘Gene’ Cernan was an American astronaut, and probably one of the prodigiously versatile being of the century. He is the last American astronaut to walk on the moon, as part of the NASA Apollo space program, which began with Neil Armstrong and its cessation lies with Cernan.
A deeply esteemed among the scientific co-fraternity, he, being one among the twelve persons to walk on the moon’s surface and possessing the rare distinction of having travelled to the moon twice in his lifetime, his recent and mournful demise, took place on January 16, 2017. It was veritably the end of an era which witnessed the sheer genesis of the American space exploration program and perhaps its greatest forthcoming ascents, after all.
Childhood and Education
Gene Cernan was born on March 14, 1934 in Chicago, in the state of Illinois. Both of his parents had the Slavic descent, his mother being Czech and father Slovak respectively. As an impressionable youngster, he was a part of the Boy Scouts and had obtained a ‘Second Class’ rank in it.
For his kindergarten, he had attended ‘McKinley Elementary School’ in Bellwood and in the year 1952, he completed his high school degree from ‘Proviso East High School’ in Maywood. In the same year after completing his school education, he joined Purdue University (in West Lafayette, state of Indiana) for the course of Bachelor of Science in the field of Electrical Engineering, which he passed magna cum laude, with great accomplishment.
This university has the sole distinction of counting the first (Neil Armstrong) and last moon exploration astronauts among its venerable alumni. At University, he was also a part of the ‘Reserve Officer Training Corps’, pertaining to the Naval Services. He was also an ordained member of the ‘Phi Gamma Delta’ brotherhood at his alma mater.
After graduating, he joined the US Navy as an ensign, he did the flight training for two years and in 1958, was commissioned as a Naval Pilot. After serving in the Navy, he joined the Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, California) for the course of Master of Science in Aeronautical Engineering, and graduated in 1963 with a hallowing career in the navy.
After post-graduation, he was selected by NASA as a supporting pilot in their Gemini and Apollo space exploration expeditions. In 1969, he was a part of the Apollo 10 expedition, which was his first stint as an astronaut. In 1972, he commanded the Apollo 17 moon expedition, this being the second expedition, this time under his sole command, along with fellow astronauts, Jim Lovell and John Young.
He retired both from the US Navy (having attained the rank of Captain) and NASA simultaneously in 1976 and joined the business world, having been appointed as the Executive Vice-President of Coral Petroleum Inc. In 1981, he laid out the foundations of his own enterprise, ‘The Cernan Corporation.’
From 1987 onwards, he commenced forays into journalism and was a regular contributor and presenter in the ABC news. He was also a vital part of the on the talk show ‘Good Morning America’ and presented one of its segments named ‘Breakthrough.’ This literary outpourings lead to its apogee with the publication of his autobiography titled ‘The Last Man on Moon’, along with Donald A. Davis. He also made an appearance in the docudrama titled. ‘The Last Man on the Moon’ by the British director Mark Craig.
Gene Cernan He hadmarried Barbara Jean Atchley in 1961. The couple got divorced in 1981. They had a daughter together, named Teresa Daw. He married Jan Nanna Cernan in 1987 and this marriage continued throughout his life. He is survived by the children Tracy and Marion Cernan.