Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon, died at the age of 82 on Monday, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said. His family released a statement saying he was suffering from several health issues and died surrounded by family.
He was the second person to walk in space, Reuters reported. “I knew that I had changed in the past three days and that I no longer belonged solely to the Earth. Forever more, I would belong to the universe,” he wrote of his experience on the Moon.
“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,” his family’s statement said.
Cernan was one of the three people to go to the Moon twice. During his last mission to the Moon in 1972, where he served as commander of the Apollo 17, he had said, “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind,” BBC reported. Only six of the twelve people who walked on the Moon are still alive.
He had slammed US President Barack Obama’s government for not supporting the Constellation programme, which aimed to send missions to the Moon and Mars. He is survived by wife Jan Nanna Cernan, three children and nine grandchildren.