Eugene Cernan Poster


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Overview (5)

Date of Birth 14 March 1934Chicago, Illinois, USA
Date of Death 16 January 2017Houston, Texas, USA
Birth NameEugene Andrew Cernan
Nickname Gene
Height 6' (1.83 m)

Mini Bio (1)

Cernan was born on March 14, 1934 in Chicago, Illinois, the son of a Czech-American mother, Rose (Cihlar), and a Slovak-American father, Andrew Cernan. He graduated from Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Illinois. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University in 1956 and a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California. He also earned an Honorary Doctorate of Law degree from Western State University College of Law in 1969, an Honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Purdue University in 1970, and other honors from other universities.

Cernan, a United States Navy Captain, received his commission through the Navy ROTC Program at Purdue. He entered flight training upon graduation. He was assigned to Attack Squadrons 26 and 112 at the Miramar, California, Naval Air Station, and later attended the Naval Postgraduate School.

Captain Cernan was one of fourteen astronauts selected by NASA in October, 1963.

He occupied the pilot seat alongside of command pilot Tom Stafford on the Gemini IX mission. During this three-day flight which began on June 3, 1966, the spacecraft achieved a circular orbit of 161 statute miles; the crew used three different techniques to effect rendezvous with the previously launched Augmented Target Docking Adapter. Cernan logged two hours and ten minutes outside the spacecraft in extravehicular activities. The flight ended after 72 hours and 20 minutes with a perfect re-entry and recovery -- Gemini IX landed within a mile and a half of the prime recovery ship USS WASP, and only three-eighths of a mile from the predetermined target!

Cernan subsequently served as backup pilot for Gemini 12 and as backup lunar module pilot for Apollo 7.

On his second space flight, he was lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, May 18-26, 1969, the first comprehensive lunar-orbital qualification and verification flight test of an Apollo lunar module. He was accompanied on the 248,000-nautical-mile trip to the Moon by Thomas P. Stafford (spacecraft commander) and John W. Young (commander module pilot). In accomplishing all of the assigned objectives of this mission, Apollo 10 confirmed the operations performance, stability, and reliability of the command/service module and lunar module configuration during trans-lunar coast, lunar orbit insertion, and lunar module separation and descent to within 8 nautical miles of the lunar surface. The latter maneuver involved employing all but the final minutes of the technique prescribed for use in an actual lunar landing, and allowed critical evaluations of the lunar module propulsions systems and rendezvous of the landing radar devices in subsequent rendezvous and re-docking maneuvers. So close and yet so far!

In addition to demonstrating that humans could navigate safely and accurately in the Moon's gravitational fields, Apollo 10 photographed and mapped tentative landing sites for future missions.

After getting back from Apollo 10, Cernan took a gamble. He turned down the assignment as backup crew of Apollo 13, knowing that from there, he would probably rotate to Apollo 16, giving him a "potential" opportunity to walk on the Moon. He took that risk because he hoped he would get a chance to command his own crew, instead of again taking the role of lunar module pilot. Not only was he lucky to skip the ill-fated Apollo 13, his gamble worked.

Cernan's next assignment was backup spacecraft commander for Apollo 14, and he made his third space flight as spacecraft Commander of Apollo 17--the last manned mission to the Moon for the United States--on December 6, 1972, with the first manned nighttime launch; they returned home on December 19.

With him on the voyage of the command module "America" and the lunar module "Challenger" were Ronald Evans (command module pilot) and Harrison H. (Jack) Schmitt (lunar module pilot. In maneuvering "Challenger" to a landing at Taurus-Littrow, located on the southeast edge of Mare Serenitatis, Cernan and Schmitt activated a base of operations from which they completed three highly successful excursions to the nearby craters and the Taurus mountains, making the Moon their home for over three days.

This last mission to the Moon established several new records for manned space flight that include: longest manned lunar landing flight (301 hours 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (an estimated 115 kg (249 lbs.) of space rocks and soil); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours 48 minutes). While Cernan and Schmitt conducted activities on the lunar surface, Evans remained in lunar orbit aboard the "America" completing other assigned work tasks. Apollo 17 ended with a splashdown in the Pacific Ocean.

Cernan left his daughter's initials on the lunar surface (TDC, for Teresa Dawn Cernan, who was born March 4, 1963).

Captain Cernan logged 566 hours and 15 minutes in space--of which more than 73 hours were spent on the surface of the Moon.

In September, 1973, Cernan assumed additional duties as Special Assistant to the Program Manager of the Apollo spacecraft Program at the Johnson Space Center. In this capacity, he assisted in the planning, development, and evaluation of the joint United States/Soviet Union Apollo-Soyuz mission, and he acted for the program manager as the senior United States negotiator in direct discussions with the USSR on the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project.

On July 1, 1976, Captain Cernan retired after over 20 years with the U.S. Navy. At the same time, he terminated his formal association with NASA.

Cernan joined Coral Petroleum, Inc., of Houston, Texas, as Executive Vice President-International. His responsibilities were to enhance Coral's energy related programs on a worldwide basis

In September 1981, Captain Cernan started his own company, The Cernan Corporation, to pursue management and consultant interests in the energy, aerospace, and other related industries. Additionally he was involved as a co-anchorman on ABC-TV's presentations of the flight of the shuttle.

Cernan became Chairman of the Board of Johnson Engineering Corporation. Johnson Engineering provides NASA with Flight Crew Systems Development and has supported NASA in the design of crew stations for Space Shuttle, Spacelab, Space Station, Lunar Base and Mars Outpost, as well as the Weightless Environment Training Facility.

He was married to Barbara Jean Atchley from 1961-1981; their daughter, Teresa Dawn, was nicknamed Tracy. His second marriage was to Jan Nanna Cernan (of Jan Nanna Cernan Designs Inc. in Houston, Texas); they had two daughters, Kelly and Danielle. His hobbies included love for horses and all competitive sports activities, including hunting, fishing and flying.

Among his numerous honors, the most significant are the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal with Star, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the FAI International Gold Medal for Space, induction into the U.S. Space Hall of Fame, enshrinement into the National Aviation Hall of Fame, Naval Aviations Hall of Honor and the International Aerospace Hall of Fame. Cernan was awarded NASAs first Ambassador of Exploration Award, the Federal Aviation Administrations prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, and the 2007 Lindbergh Spirit Award (presented only every five years). In December, 2007, The National Aeronautic Association presented Cernan with one of the most prestigious aviation trophies in the world, the Wright Brothers Memorial Trophy, in Washington, DC. Cernan received the 2008 Rotary National Award for Space Achievement and the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Gold Air Medal, one of the most important international awards, in 2008.

Cernan wrote (with New York Times bestselling author Don Davis) the book "The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space" (1999, ISBN 0312199066).

He died at 82 on January 16, 2017 in Houston, Texas.

- IMDb Mini Biography By: fkelleghan <fkelleghan@hotmail.com>

Spouse (2)

Jan Nanna (1987 - 16 January 2017) (his death) (2 children)
Barbara Jean Atchley (6 May 1961 - 1981) (divorced) (1 child)

Trivia (8)

Crew member on Gemini 9 (1966), Apollo 10 (1969), and Apollo 17 (1972) missions.
One daughter from first marriage, Teresa Dawn, known as "Tracy", born 4 March 1963. He claims to have written her initials in the lunar dust just before leaving the Moon. Two grandchildren.
Two stepdaughters from second marriage, Kelly & Danielle.
One of only three men to have visited the moon twice. Once from Orbit (Apollo 10) and the second time landing (Apollo 17, which he commanded). The others are Jim Lovell and John Young.
Moonwalker (Apollo 17, December 1972). Last man to take his foot off the moon's surface. As a result his autobiography is called "Last Man on the Moon".
Flew one Gemini and two Apollo flights twice going to the moon. Gemini 9 was scheduled to dock with an Agena target vehicle, but the protective shroud did not eject making it look like "an angry alligator" according to fellow astronaut Thomas P. Stafford. Flying again with Thomas P. Staffordand John Young, the crew flew to the moon on Apollo 10 without landing. The lunar module's call sign was Snoopy while the command module was called Charlie Brown. He commanded Apollo 17 flying with Harrison Schmitt and Ron Evans staying on the moon for three days becoming the last Americans to walk the moon to date. Their lunar module was Challenger while Ron Evans circled the moon in America.
For the launch of Apollo 17, by sundown on Dec. 6, 1972, about 700,000 people had gathered to witness the historic launch. More than fifty of Cernan's personal friends were there by invitation, including celebrities such as John Wayne, Connie Stevens, Bob Hope, Don Rickles, Dinah Shore, Johnny Carson, and Eva Gabor.

Personal Quotes (10)

As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come - but we believe not too long into the future - I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record - that America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.
[about the Lunar Rover] Driving that car was really something. You hit a little pothole and you've got one wheel off the ground half the time. It really allowed us to go places that we never would have been able to get to if we had to walk. The valley we landed in was about 20 miles long and about five miles across. The mountains that surrounded it just towered above everything else. We were able to cover that whole valley with the lunar rover.
[about gravity on the Moon] There have been a number of people in zero gravity, but only 12 people have ever experienced one-sixth gravity. It's a totally different world. I love one-sixth gravity. If I could turn Earth gravity into one-sixth gravity, I would!
As I step off at the surface of Taurus-Littrow, I'd like to dedicate the first steps of Apollo Seventeen to all those who made it possible. Oh, my golly. Unbelievable. (Dec. 6, 1972, from the Moon)
Houston, the Challenger has landed! (Dec. 6, 1972, from the Moon)
[about the Apollo 17 launch being the first to occur at night] In order to get to where you want to land in December, and get the sun behind you at the proper angle when you land, it required us to launch at night. There had never been a manned flight launching at night, so we started out with a big bang. That night launch was one of the more phenomenal things people remember about Apollo 17. I heard all kinds of descriptions of what it was like, such as, "It was like a thousand suns." They could see it from Miami to Atlanta, up and down the coast.
And then you get to the Moon, and all of a sudden, for the first time, you're standing on something that is not Earth. You can climb the highest mountain of this planet of ours, or swim to the depths of the deepest ocean, and you're still on planet Earth. But when you go to the Moon, you're on another body in this universe; it's solid, and you can walk on it. And then you look over your shoulder, and you're surrounded not by a blue sky, but by a black sky. You're in sunlight, surrounded by the blackest black you can conceive in your mind. No one confused the blackness with darkness; it's a blackness that is the endlessness of space and time. And the Earth is three-dimensional in this blackness; it's dynamic and alive. It captures you, but you don't understand it; you can't show it to anybody, but you know it exists, because you saw it with your own eyes. Science and technology got you there, but it's like you're standing on a plateau where science has met its match.
You find the Earth is revolving, very mysteriously and yet very majestically, on an axis you can't see. All of a sudden, as the Earth turns, you look at Australia and Asia and Europe and the entire continent of Africa. You can look from the icebergs of the north to the snow-covered mountains of the pole at the south. It's just an awe-inspiring, overpowering experience.
It's an overwhelming experience to watch a sunset on the east coast of the United States and the sun rise on the east coast of Australia, almost at the same instant.
[often, to people looking at his photographs from space] If you look closely, you can you see your house.

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