San Diego

San Diego Air & Space Museum Mourns Death of Last Astronaut Gene Cernan

Cernan was the last of only 12 people to ever leave footprints on the moon.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is mourning the passing of the last astronaut to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan, who was placed on the International Air and Space Hall of Fame in 2007.

Cernan flew to the moon not once but twice, and was revered for being the second person to walk in space and the last person to leave his footsteps on the moon, said museum officials.

"Gene Cernan was a true American hero who served his country with great distinction as a highly decorated Naval Aviator and astronaut, including one of only a dozen people to walk on the moon," said Jim Kidrick, President and CEO of the San Diego Air & Space Museum, in a statement.

"As a member of the International Air & Space Hall of Fame, a Naval Aviator who trained right here in San Diego, and as a regular visitor to our Museum, Gene will always hold a special place at the San Diego Air & Space Museum," said Kidrick.

The Education Director at the museum recounted Cernan passionately retelling his experience exploring the moon to captivated audiences.

"As the last person to stand on the surface of the Moon, Gene Cernan spent the rest of his life conveying his vivid experiences in ways that brought a tear to the eye of most audience members," explained Francis French, Education Director at the San Diego Air & Space Museum and space historian, in a statement.

"He felt a responsibility not only to share his memories, but also to inspire young people to become explorers. He dearly hoped that he would live to see someone else take his unwanted title of the last person to stand on the moon: It is very saddening that he did not live to see this happen," said French.

In February, the San Diego Air & Space Museum will open an exhibit called "Be the Astronaut," featuring a fun, interactive space adventure, said museum officials. It will involve launching a rocket, piloting a spaceship and driving a rover.

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