Remembering Gene Cernan

Gene Cernan with his family pose in front of the new Lunar Module replica at the National Naval Aviation Museum during its unveiling celebration in 2012. Credit: Chase Clark

Gene Cernan passed away in Houston, Texas, on January 16, 2017. He was the second American to walk in space and the last human to leave his bootprints on the surface of the Moon. Cernan flew to space three times as a member of the Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17 missions.

According to a statement from Cernan’s family, “Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation’s leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the Moon,”

For the inaugural issue of RocketSTEM, we were fortunate enough that Cernan agree to be interviewed via telephone for the start-up magazine. We also covered the Pioneers of Space event at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, where Cernan was one of the many astronauts that took part in the December 2012 event that also celebrated the 40th anniversary of his Apollo 17 mission to the Moon. The quotes included in the image were spoken by him and featured in that issue.

I always tell young people to aim for the Moon. I tell them ‘I walked on the Moon before you were born. What can you do?’

The future is in our kids and we’ve got to give them something. We’ve got to give them some self reliance and some self confidence, and something to reach out for. Something that they can feel good about. 

We need dreamers. Because that is how we got to the Moon. We’ve got to get these kids dreaming again.

This article appeared in the 14th issue of RocketSTEM magazine.

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