The Last Man on the Moon
January 16, 2017 2:34 PM   Subscribe


 
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posted by Krazor at 2:39 PM on January 16


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posted by otherchaz at 2:42 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


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posted by Pendragon at 2:46 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Late and latest lunar human: Eugene Cernan, former Earthling.
posted by pracowity at 2:50 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by leotrotsky at 2:52 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


More than when the First Man on the Moon passed away, this very seriously signifies the end of humanity's efforts to reach the stars.
. for Eugene
. for Our Dreams
posted by oneswellfoop at 2:54 PM on January 16 [20 favorites]


For people confused by the post title like myself, Cernan was the final (so far) person to have walked on the Moon, but not the last person alive to have had done so. Of the 12 people who have walked on the Moon, 6 are still alive.
posted by Sangermaine at 2:56 PM on January 16 [40 favorites]




His autobiography is well worth a read; there is also a documentary that I may see if I can stream tonight. Both can be found at the aptly named thelastmanonthemoon.com.
posted by TedW at 2:56 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


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posted by cichlid ceilidh at 2:57 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


This title scared me- I thought it was "last of the people to walk on the moon passes away" not "last person to visit the moon passes away".

That blue marble photo is amazing.

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posted by freethefeet at 2:58 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]






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posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 3:04 PM on January 16


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posted by Thorzdad at 3:10 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by Splunge at 3:14 PM on January 16


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posted by yuwtze at 3:15 PM on January 16


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posted by Melismata at 3:24 PM on January 16


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posted by ZeusHumms at 3:27 PM on January 16


‘We truly are in an age of challenge. With that challenge comes opportunity. The sky is no longer the limit. The word impossible no longer belongs in our vocabulary. We have proved that we can do whatever we have the resolve to do. The limit to our reach is our own complacency.’
posted by BigCalm at 3:29 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


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posted by Mister Moofoo at 3:39 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by mikelieman at 3:44 PM on January 16


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posted by Rob Rockets at 3:48 PM on January 16


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posted by Joey Michaels at 3:54 PM on January 16


Of the 12 people who have walked on the Moon, 6 are still alive.

It's become a horrible countdown, and it makes me far too sad.

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posted by greycap at 3:57 PM on January 16 [6 favorites]


. . . _.·~·._.·~·._ . . .
posted by farlukar at 4:10 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Things like this make me wonder - how could you get the will and capital together in modern america to build another hoover dam or put a man on the moon?
posted by drewbage1847 at 4:12 PM on January 16 [7 favorites]


Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine, et lux perpetua luceat eis. Requiescat in pace.
posted by ob1quixote at 4:12 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Gene Cernan, last most recent man person to walk on the moon

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posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 4:13 PM on January 16 [5 favorites]


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posted by Silverstone at 4:28 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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posted by Smart Dalek at 4:31 PM on January 16


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posted by brennen at 4:39 PM on January 16


Apollo 17 was a great mission, maybe even my favorite Apollo mission after Apollo 12. For three days a test pilot and an non-pilot geologist lived on the Moon, drove the Lunar Rover around, and generally did the sorts of things that should be done when you've only got seven six chances to explore the Moon. They even repaired the fender on the Rover with a map and some Duct Tape.

Here's a video, taken from the rover camera, of the Lunar Module launching from the moon for the very last time.

I hope at least one of these guys is still alive the next time a human walks on the Moon or Mars. I don't think that's going to happen though.

RIP, Mr. Cernan.

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posted by bondcliff at 4:53 PM on January 16 [11 favorites]


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posted by aerotive at 4:59 PM on January 16


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posted by Ber at 5:05 PM on January 16


The first and last Boilermakers to walk on the moon are now gone.

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posted by COD at 5:23 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


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Do not read the comments on that Apollo 17 lift-off video.
posted by lagomorphius at 5:31 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


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Legend
posted by inflatablekiwi at 5:34 PM on January 16


"We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all . . . "
posted by ThadExMachina at 5:37 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Things like this make me wonder - how could you get the will and capital together in modern america to build another hoover dam or put a man on the moon?
drewbage1847

Simple: For any big project like those that you want to see done, just have liberals loudly oppose it, proclaim that supporting it is sexist and racist, and that political correctness demands that it never happen.

It will be approved and funded by close of business the next day.
posted by Sangermaine at 5:38 PM on January 16 [10 favorites]


If you are interested, The Last Man on the Moon documentary based on Cernan's autobiography is available on Netflix; I've only been watching a few minutes but it looks good. Already had this memorable exchange between Cernan and one of his fighter pilot buddies, as described in this review:

We also learn of Cernan’s early days as something of a daredevil pilot with the Navy. Over a nighttime backyard barbecue, Cernan’s old Navy buddy, former Naval Aviator Fred “Baldy” Baldwin, ribs Cernan about having average bombing skills at best. Cernan takes a beat, points up to the moon and says, “That’s 240,000 miles away, and I hit that.”

(Cernan's reply was a response to Baldwin saying "You were lucky to hit the ground.")

He also has an official website here.

Now back to folding laundry and watching the movie.

RIP Captain Cernan.
posted by TedW at 6:00 PM on January 16 [9 favorites]


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People walked on the moon in my lifetime. I was on the planet in '72. Godspeed, Gene.
posted by Sphinx at 6:01 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


Things like this make me wonder - how could you get the will and capital together in modern america to build another hoover dam or put a man on the moon?

Quite frankly, these days you probably couldn't. One group would complain that there's a chance someone might die doing it, the environmentalists would complain it'll destroy the world, and everyone else would just complain it's too expensive. And our cell phones are just too damn distracting for us to have the attention span to do something that takes longer than 5 minutes.
posted by piper28 at 6:14 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by SisterHavana at 6:34 PM on January 16


We (humanity) probably aren't going back, certainly not in the last couple of decades of my life. Bummer.
posted by Beholder at 6:37 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


From the article, Cernan is talking about the blue marble photo and humanity understanding the impact of what the Apollo program was:
We did it way too early considering what we're doing now in space. It's almost as if JFK reached out into the twenty-first century where we are today, grabbed hold of a decade of time, slipped it neatly into the (nineteen) sixties and seventies (and) called it Apollo."
posted by freethefeet at 6:40 PM on January 16 [23 favorites]


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posted by drezdn at 6:49 PM on January 16


I hope he turned off the lights on his way out. Otherwise there's going to be a hell of an electricity bill waiting for whoever returns.
posted by Rhomboid at 6:53 PM on January 16


Do not read the comments on that Apollo 17 lift-off video.

It's very frustrating searching YouTube for Apollo videos because somehow the conspiracy nut job videos rise to the top.
posted by bondcliff at 6:55 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Fun facts about Cernan: He was offered the Apollo 16 mission as the Lunar Module Pilot, under John Young's command. He turned it down, telling Deke Slayton if he was going to fly again (for third flight), then he wanted to be Commander. Slayton though he was nuts, but said he'd keep Cernan in mind.

Supposedly one of the reasons Cernan got command of Apollo 17 is because Mike Collins, the Command Module Pilot on Apollo 11 turned down the first offer.

Then Cernan almost lost the gig, TWICE. One was because he crashed a training helicopter in water because he checking some women on the beach. When Deke Slayton asked him what happened, Cernan told him and then Slayton told him to tell everyone else it was a training mishap. Cernan declined and admitted to everyone it was his fault. Cernan thought that straight up honesty was one of the reasons Slayton put him in Command of 17.

The other was because he strained something in his leg or knee during training for Apollo 17. He went to the Flight Surgeon about it, who by all rights should have grounded him (which would have made Apollo 16 Commander John Young the only man to walk on the Moon twice), but the doctor didn't tell anyone and just worked with Cernan to get everything back in shape.


On his first flight, Gemini 9, he almost died on spacewalk. NASA was still figuring out the dos and don'ts of spacewalks, and Cernan went out there all unprepared. He sweated his ass off climbing around the vehicle before his obvious tiredness became an issue and the spacewalk was called off. This was his point of view while "outside". Supposedly about half a gallon or so of sweat was poured out of his book was his back on Earth, he was struggling that hard.

Then there was that time on Apollo 10 where he cursed out loud on an open mike and had to later apologize for doing so. But they were about to crash into the Moon, so he should be forgiven for that, lol.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:12 PM on January 16 [14 favorites]


I hope he turned off the lights on his way out.

He forgot to write the name of his daughter on a big rock they took samples from, but fellow astronaut Alan Bean figured out how to solve that: "As Gene's friend, I have employed artistic license to save him the long trip back to Station Six, not to mention the monumental savings to all us taxpayers." (source)
posted by effbot at 7:15 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


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posted by condour75 at 7:34 PM on January 16


I wonder when exactly he knew that he'd never see anyone else go up there. It had to happen at some point, but man, I hope it was like, yesterday.
posted by Etrigan at 7:38 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


(Hope this works.)
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posted by Samizdata at 7:39 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


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posted by Songdog at 7:39 PM on January 16


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posted by lapolla at 7:51 PM on January 16


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posted by proneSMK at 7:54 PM on January 16


Goodbye, moonman.
posted by byanyothername at 8:07 PM on January 16 [2 favorites]


It's been several years since I went to Florida, but I remember going to Kennedy Space Center and hearing someone on video--I think it was this fellow--saying he couldn't wait to meet the next person who got to land on the moon.

I guess he couldn't wait :(
What oneswellfoop said.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:07 PM on January 16 [1 favorite]


Buzz' statement:

"Today we lost yet another hero. Gene Cernan and I met for the first time when we were selected for the third group of astronauts in November of 1963. We started our training together in January of 1964 and eventually worked together as the backup crew of Gemini 9. He was a Navy guy and I was Air Force so there was always a friendly dose of ribbing and trying to one up each other that continued to this day. We had the very interesting task of training together on the maneuvering unit – a jet pack like George Clooney used in the movie “Gravity”, which was a fascinating project and was quite complicated. Unfortunately, NASA felt it was too risky so we weren’t able to use it during our Gemini missions.

"I left NASA before Gene’s mission to the Moon on Apollo 17 but of course followed it closely with the rest of the world. He served the nation extremely well on his mission with Ron Evans and the first scientist astronaut, Jack Schmitt. It was the final mission to the Moon but our hopes had been that we would press forward and eventually be on Mars as the next destination. Unfortunately, that hasn’t happened and Gene is the last person to step foot on another celestial body. He was the last man on the moon and he wasn’t happy about that and continually stressed that he didn’t want to be the last.

"Gene was probably the strongest spokesman for astronauts for lunar travel and advocating a return to the moon. He made multiple trips to Washington to give testimony along with Neil Armstrong and Jim Lovell to promote NASA and not losing our pioneering spirit. He wasn’t really a Mars guy like me, but he cared deeply about continuing manned space exploration.

"Us astronauts will always remember his cheerful and smiling approach to everything. With the passing of the First Man – Neil Armstrong, and the passing of the Last Man – Gene Cernan, it is up to us Middle Men to carry on spirit of Apollo into the future for our Nation and the world.

BUZZ"
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:37 PM on January 16 [20 favorites]


The buffaloes are gone and those who saw the buffaloes are gone.

Ad astra per aspera.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 8:40 PM on January 16 [3 favorites]


The limit to our reach is our own complacency.

This is painfully true.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 8:55 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


The importance of the Apollo missions to me and millions of other young dreamers and nerds cannot be overstated. Thank you, Gene.

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posted by mondo dentro at 8:56 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


He forgot to write the name of his daughter on a big rock they took samples from...

But he did famously inscribe her initials in the lunar soil just before he left; they will most likely be there for thousands of years (as will Charles Duke's family photo). Watching the movie I mentioned earlier touched me in many unexpected ways. (Spoilers ahead) His daughter is only a few months older than me; I can't imagine what it was like growing up in the middle of the space race that I was fascinated with from the outside. It was also personally significant to me that the only Apollo night launch was Apollo 17, and just so happened to occur on my 9th birthday. But what brought tears to my eyes was near the end of the movie, after Cernan had acknowledged the toll his career had taken on his family, and after footage of him and his old buddy Baldy slowly riding horses and struggling to dismount interspersed with footage of 1950's fighter jocks at their prime. Afterward the two friends are reminiscing outside about how far they've come, and the following exchange takes place:

The journey doesn't end here babe, we're still here.
That's right.
How many more years?
We got a pact to make it to 85; then we'll reevaluate.

posted by TedW at 9:00 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


"As we leave the moon and Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind."

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posted by theartandsound at 9:02 PM on January 16 [4 favorites]


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posted by oneironaut at 9:39 PM on January 16


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posted by bryon at 10:14 PM on January 16


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posted by mazola at 10:39 PM on January 16


Ha! That's some good stories MetaFilter, thanks for sharing! He sounds like a fun and interesting guy. In our Dante, we read that "the sea I cross was never sailed before, Minerva blows the wind and Apollo is my pilot". And all this was more true of Gene, save perhaps with Apollo and Minerva switching roles.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 1:06 AM on January 17 [4 favorites]


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posted by tilde at 2:53 AM on January 17


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posted by Gelatin at 3:13 AM on January 17


A true American Hero

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posted by james33 at 3:44 AM on January 17


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posted by sammyo at 3:55 AM on January 17


We were all so thrilled and amazed with each space flight back in the '60s, and the moon landings were the epitome of that excitement. How in the world have we come to this, where there's been no moon landings for decades and even the space shuttles are nothing more than museum exhibits?

Godspeed, Capt. Cernan, and thanks for the dreams.
posted by easily confused at 5:08 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


🚀🌓• Watching a launch was one of several valid reasons to stay home from school when I was a kid. Astronauts were my heros.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 5:19 AM on January 17 [2 favorites]


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posted by ChrisR at 6:50 AM on January 17


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posted by Cash4Lead at 6:57 AM on January 17


Not to be Captain Downer but:

they will most likely be there for thousands of years (as will Charles Duke's family photo)

The photo paper will still be there, but by this point it's already taken the equivalent of a few hundred years of full sun exposure on Earth (and, just ballparking, something like one or two thousand rads) and probably doesn't look like much. Neither does most printed or painted material we left there.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 7:46 AM on January 17


"It wasn't a miracle. We just decided to go." Jim Lovell

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posted by Zonker at 8:15 AM on January 17 [3 favorites]


One of the most depressing things I ever realized was that I was born on a world where no living person had walked on the moon and will most likely die on a world where no living person has walked on the moon.

I loved Buzz's comment that it's now up to the remaining Apollo astronauts to keep the dream alive.
posted by dustsquid at 9:49 AM on January 17 [1 favorite]


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A recording of Eugene Cernan speaking was used at the beginning of Terry Riley's "One Earth, One People, One Love", which is the last movement of his piece Sun Rings.
posted by nikoniko at 9:59 AM on January 17




The photo paper will still be there, but by this point it's already taken the equivalent of a few hundred years of full sun exposure on Earth (and, just ballparking, something like one or two thousand rads)

Not to forget that it goes up to about 120 Celsius every 28 days and down again to about -150.
posted by Quindar Beep at 12:16 PM on January 17


...how could you get the will and capital together in modern america to build another hoover dam or put a man on the moon?

I can live without another Hoover Dam, but damn, would I like to see an American vision of another planet take hold.
posted by BlueHorse at 2:59 PM on January 17 [1 favorite]


As I understand it, Trump was relatively positive on human space exploration during the campaign, albeit with a heavy private-sector bias and at the expense of Earth science. Who knows, maybe he'll decide that a revitalized space program would make America great again. Someone should tell him they could put a big sign up there with his name on it, right next to Nixon's.
posted by Gerald Bostock at 3:42 PM on January 17


Someone should tell him they could put a big sign up there with his name on it, right next to Nixon's.

Why not plaster a Trump logo over the entire surface, a la the great Zorglub. "Gnol evil Pmurt!"
posted by effbot at 4:30 AM on January 18


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