by Carl Kruse
It was on January 16, 2018 that Eugene Cernan — the Apollo 17 commander and last astronaut to walk on the moon — left our world.
Cernan was famous for saying, “Dream the impossible and make it happen. I walked on the moon. What can’t you do?”
What can’t you do indeed and I always smiled at his positive energy. I’m sad he is no longer with us.
When I posted my tribute to Gene Cernan on my Facebook page, a friend answered, “Stop saying he was the LAST man to walk on the Moon. He was simply the most recent, not the LAST. There WILL be more people to walk on the Moon.”
And of course I hope that is true but in thinking about my post I realized I used the phrase “last man to walk on the moon” deliberately for two reasons.
The first is that it is accurate. He IS the last man who walked on the moon. Does that mean there won’t be other people in the future who walk on the moon? Of course not. But who knows when, which leads to my second reason.
Cernan’s walk on the moon was almost 50 years ago and manned space activity has been almost nil since then. That’s an entire generation that has abandoned lunar, to not say anything about manned planetary exploration.
The Chinese or a private company is more likely to go to the moon or Mars before the USA does, which would be great for humanity, but for the country that lit the world’s imagination aflame with the Apollo missions, that sent the only people in history to walk on the moon, to now be lost in the woods is sad. Which is why I used the word LAST in the eulogy to Cernan. At this rate the USA will have beautiful walls with Mexico, vast numbers of its citizens without health insurance and sent its last person to the moon.
Hopefully this will change and the USA will once again do great deeds in space (and for its citizens close to home), though such change is nowhere in sight.
Anyway, tangential thoughts in celebrating Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, but hopefully not THE last man to walk on the moon.
Find the blog home page at Carl Kruse
More articles on Space related topics: Update on Kepler, Voyager Golden Records, SETI at HOME pauses, and More Exoplanets Found.
The blog’s last post was Why Be Kind.
A website dedicated to Gene Cernan is here.