Eugene Cernan, last man on the moon, dies

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(CNN) — Eugene A. Cernan, the last astronaut to leave his footprints on the surface of the moon, has died, NASA said Monday.

He was 82.

"We are saddened by the loss of retired NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon," the US space agency said on Twitter.

Cernan was one of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963. He served as as spacecraft commander of Apollo 17, the last scheduled manned mission to the moon for the United States. The mission launched on December 6, 1972 and returned on December 19.

The mission established several new records for manned space flight, including longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes), and longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes).

Space Center Houston Statement on the Death of Astronaut Eugene “Gene” Cernan

It is with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of our friend, astronaut Eugene “Gene” Cernan who was a long-time supporter of Space Center Houston.

“Retired Navy Captain Gene Cernan not only left his footprints on the moon, but in our hearts,” said President and CEO William T. Harris of Space Center Houston. “He will forever be remembered as an inspiration to us all and a strong advocate for Space Center Houston’s educational mission. He helped launch the pathway for future explorers to discover unlimited opportunities.”

The legacy of the last man on the moon lives on at Space Center Houston as generations of people are inspired to explore by hearing his story and seeing the Apollo 17 capsule used on the last mission to the moon.

“Gene will be remembered for his incredible spirit and passion, and his willingness to help others achieve their dreams,” said Fred Griffin, chairman of the board of directors of the Manned Space Flight Education Foundation.