Captain Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut to set foot on the moon, has died aged 82.
Nasa announced the news that Cernan had passed away via its official Twitter account roughly four hours ago in the following tweet:
— NASA (@NASA) January 17, 2017
As the commander of the 1972 Apollo 17 mission, Nasa’s last mission to the moon, Cernan was the last human to leave footprints on the moon. Over the span of his career he logged 72 hours on the celestial body’s surface as well as 566 hours and 15 minutes in space.
According to a statement released by Cernan’s family, his death was caused by ‘ongoing health issues’. He is survived by his wife, Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter, his son-in-law, two step-daughters and nine grandchildren.
“It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father,” the family said in its statement. “Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone’s thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend.”
Cernan’s death follows the recent parting of fellow astronaut and moon walker, John Glenn, who died in December of last year.
According to CNN, Cernan had a distinguished career with Nasa, earning several distinctions over his 13 years with the space agency. He was the second US astronaut to walk in space and one of only three men to have flown to the moon twice.
He remained a staunch supporter of Nasa as well as a passionate advocate of space travel right up until his death.