They Walked on the Moon


Eugene A. Cernan, who died on Monday at the age of 82, was the last of a dozen men to leave footprints on the moon. He did so almost 45 years ago. Here is a look at the 12 astronauts who walked on the lunar surface.

Neil Armstrong


Mission: Apollo 11 | 1969

Mr. Armstrong became a global hero when he made “one giant leap for mankind,” a moment that symbolized human beings’ ability to reach the unreachable. Hundreds of millions of people watched on television as he then bounded like a kangaroo in low lunar gravity.

Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin

Born 1930
Mission: Apollo 11 | 1969

Mr. Aldrin followed Mr. Armstrong out of the landing craft, becoming the second human to set foot on the moon. Later, he focused on a new destination, Mars, telling The New York Times Magazine that it was far more interesting. “It has seasons,” he said.

Charles (Pete) Conrad

Mission: Apollo 12 | 1969

In November 1969, Mr. Conrad spent seven hours and 45 minutes on the lunar surface, where he set up a nuclear generator to power experiments. He later said that walking on the moon had little impact on his life.

Alan L. Bean

Mission: Apollo 12 | 1969

Born 1932

The Apollo astronauts were known for hobbies like hunting, sports cars, golf and skiing. Mr. Bean was studying art, painting still lifes to unwind between missions.

Mr. Bean was the fourth man to walk on the moon. He became an artist, trying to recapture through paintings what he and other astronauts had witnessed.

Alan B. Shepard Jr.

Mission: Apollo 14 | 1971

Years before Mr. Shepard walked on the moon, he became the first American to fly in space. That flight, on May 5, 1961, lasted just 15 minutes, but it lifted national spirits amid Cold War anxiety, even though the Soviet Union had sent a man into space 23 days earlier.

During his Apollo mission to the moon, he took several spirited whacks at golf balls with a makeshift six-iron that he had brought along. In the weak lunar gravity, the balls sailed.

“He lived every golfer’s dream,” President Bill Clinton said, calling Mr. Shepard “one of the great heroes of modern America.”

Edgar D. Mitchell

Mission: Apollo 14 | 1971

Spending just over nine hours on two moonwalks, Mr. Mitchell and the Apollo 14 crew collected more than 94 pounds of rock samples, which they piled into a two-wheel cart they were hauling.

Mr. Mitchell, who had a doctorate in flight sciences, had long maintained a parallel interest in the study of consciousness, a fascination that was heightened during his return from the moon.

Above all, I felt the need for a radical change in our culture. I knew we were replete with untapped intuitive and psychic forces which we must utilize if we were to survive, forces that Western society had programmed us to disregard.”

David Scott

Born 1932
Mission: Apollo 15 | 1971

“Oh, this is really profound, fantastic!” Mr. Scott exclaimed, seeing the moon for the first time from orbit. He described a desolate world of craters and rugged mountains.

The goal of the mission was to land near one of the most majestic mountain ranges on the moon, the Apennines. This moonscape offered a wider variety of geological formations to study than previous missions had.

James B. Irwin

Mission: Apollo 15 | 1971

“I felt the power of God as I’d never felt it before,” Mr. Irwin said about walking on the lunar surface. He was one of the first astronauts to use a battery-operated, four-wheel runabout, Rover 1, which enabled the Apollo 15 crew to collect 175 pounds of rocks and soil. A year later, he resigned from the astronaut corps to dedicate his life to serving Jesus Christ.

On two occasions, he led expeditions to Mount Ararat in Turkey in search of evidence of Noah’s Ark. In 1982, he reached the 16,946-foot summit but fell and had to be carried down on horseback. A year later, he surveyed the summit by airplane, looking for possible remains of the ark.

“It’s easier to walk on the moon,” Mr. Irwin said. “I’ve done all I possibly can, but the ark continues to elude us.”

John Young

Born 1930
Mission: Apollo 16 | 1972

Apollo 16 returned with 200 pounds of rock samples collected during a lunar excursion. The 11-day mission cost taxpayers $455 million.

You got your money’s worth on this one,” Mr. Young said upon his return to Earth. “You saw an example of goal‐oriented teamwork, the kind of thing that made this country great and is going to keep it that way.”

Charles M. Duke Jr.

Born 1935
Mission: Apollo 16 | 1972

The mission’s explorers, seemingly inexhaustible, spent three days on the moon, gathering crystalline rocks from the Descartes landing site, an area that had not yet been visited by humans.

After returning home, the men received a call from President Richard M. Nixon. “The entire nation is proud of you,” he said.

In addition to serving as lunar module pilot of Apollo 16, Mr. Duke was a backup lunar module pilot for several other Apollo missions.

Eugene A. Cernan

Mission: Apollo 17 | 1972

I’d like to dedicate the first step of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible.

Mr. Cernan made spacewalks and romps over the lunar surface look routine, and in a way, they were by 1972. But his mission was a technological triumph above the others. On three rover excursions that took the crew 21 miles, they collected nearly 250 pounds of rocks and soil, including strange orange and red soil samples.

Mr. Cernan was known for his sense of adventure. He slid down a banister on a visit to the White House and once crashed a helicopter in the Atlantic while chasing a dolphin.

Harrison H. Schmitt

Born 1935
Mission: Apollo 17 | 1972

Dr. Schmitt was the first geologist assigned to an Apollo crew after the science community pushed the government to send a trained scientist to the moon, according to NASA.

The crew, which planned to gather samples that would allow researchers to expand their knowledge about the moon’s formation and evolution, spent about 75 hours on the moon’s surface, longer than any other moonwalkers. Humans have not walked on the lunar surface since.

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