With Cernan’s Passing, America Has Lost Half its Moon Walkers

With the passing of Eugene Cernan on Monday, America has lost half of the 12 Apollo astronauts who walked on the moon between 1969 and 1972. All the surviving astronauts from the Apollo lunar program are in their 80’s.

Cernan, 82, was the last man to step off the moon during the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972. He and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt spent three days on the lunar surface while command module pilot Ronald Evans orbited overhead.

Six moon walkers are still with us: Buzz Aldrin, 86, of Apollo 11; Alan Bean, 84, of Apollo 12; David Scott, 84, of Apollo 15;  John Young, 86, and Charlie Duke, 81, of Apollo 16; and Schmitt, 81, of Apollo 17.

Apollo 7
Oct. 11-22 1968
Test command service module in Earth orbitWally SchirraMarch 12, 1923May 3, 2007d. 84
Donn EiseleJune 23, 1930December 2, 1987d. 57
Walt CunninghamMarch 16, 193284
Apollo 8
Dec. 21-27 1968
First human voyage to the moon; 10 orbits above the lunar surface testing spacecraftFrank BormanMarch 14, 192888
Jim LovellMarch 25, 192888
Bill AndersOctober 17, 193383
Apollo 9
March 3-13 1969
Test command service module and lunar module in Earth orbitJames A. McDivittJune 10, 192987
David R. ScottJune 6, 193284
Russell L. SchweickartOctober 25, 193581
Apollo 10
May 18-26 1969
Dress rehearsal for first human landing on the moon; lunar module flew within 50,000 feet of lunar surfaceTom StaffordSeptember 17, 193086
John YoungSeptember 24, 193086
Eugene CernanMarch 14, 1934Jan. 16, 2017d. 82
Apollo 11
July 16-24 1969
First manned moon landing on Sea of Tranquility; Armstrong and Aldrin spent more than two hours walking on the surfaceNeil ArmstrongAugust 5, 1930August 25, 2012d. 82
Buzz AldrinJanuary 20, 193086
Michael CollinsOctober 31, 193086
Apollo 12
Nov. 14-24 1969
Second manned landing on the moon; recovered part of Surveyor 3 landerCharles “Pete” ConradJune 2, 1930July 8, 1999d. 69
Alan BeanMarch 15, 193284
Dick GordonOctober 5, 192987
Apollo 13
April 11-17 1970
Landing in Fra Mauro aborted due to explosion in service module oxygen tankJim LovellMarch 25, 192888
Fred HaiseNovember 14, 193383
Jack SwigertAugust 30, 1931December 27, 1982d. 51
Apollo 14
Jan. 31 – Feb. 9, 1971
Exploration of the Fra Mauro formationAlan ShepardNovember 18, 1923July 21, 1998d. 74
Edgar MitchellSeptember 17, 1930February 4, 2016d. 85
Stu RoosaAugust 16, 1933December 12, 1994d. 61
Apollo 15
July 28 – Aug. 7, 1971
Exploration of Hadley Rille; first use of the lunar rover; Worden made first deep space walk to retrieve film from the service moduleDavid R. ScottJune 6, 193284
James IrwinMarch 17, 1930August 8, 1991d. 61
Al WordenFebruary 7, 193284
Apollo 16
April 16-27 1972
Exploration of Descartes Highlands; Young and Duke spent more than 20 hours walking and driving on the surfaceJohn W. YoungSeptember 24, 193086
Charles DukeOctober 3, 193581
Ken MattinglyMarch 17, 193680
Apollo 17
Dec. 7-19 1972
Final manned moon mission; Cernan and Schmitt spent 22 hours outside the lunar module exploring Taurus-Littrow highlandsEugene CernanMarch 14, 1934Jan. 16, 2017d. 82
Harrison SchmittJuly 3, 193581
Ron EvansNovember 10, 1933April 7, 1990d. 56

In addition to Cernan, moon walkers who have passed away include Neil Armstrong of Apollo 11, Charles “Pete” Conrad of Apollo 12, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell of Apollo 14, and James Irwin of Apollo 16.

With Mitchell’s passing in February 2016, the United States lost its first full lunar crew. Command module pilot Stuart Roosa passed away in 1994 and Shepard died in 1998.

Four of the six command module pilots on the lunar landing missions remain with us. The list includes: Michael Collins, 86, of Apollo 11; Richard Gordon, 87, of Apollo 12; Al Worden, 84, of Apollo 15; and Ken Mattingly, 80, of Apollo 16. Roosa of Apollo 14 and Evans of Apollo 17 have passed away.

The Apollo program consisted of 11 flights, six of which included landings on the lunar surface. Two missions, Apollo 8 and Apollo 10, circled the moon without landing on it. Apollo 13 flew around the moon without entering orbit after an explosion crippled the service module. And two other flights, Apollo 7 and Apollo 9, flew tests in Earth orbit.

Cernan was the 11th Apollo astronaut to pass away. In all, 29 astronauts flew during the 11 missions, meaning 18 are still with us.

Cernan was one of four astronauts to fly on two different Apollo missions. He circled the moon with Young and Tom Stafford in 1969 in a dress rehearsal of the first lunar landing by Apollo 11.

Young would go on to command Apollo 16, with Cernan closing out the program as commander of Apollo 17.

David Scott flew on Apollo 9, which tested the lunar module in Earth orbit. He returned to command Apollo 15, spending three days on the surface with James Irwin.

Jim Lovell is the only man to fly to the moon twice without landing. He flew the historic Apollo 8 mission, circling the moon 10 times with Frank Borman and Bill Anders. His attempt to land on the on the moon in Apollo 13 was thwarted when an oxygen tank in the service module exploded.