Cernan, Eugene Andrew

Cernan, Eugene Andrew


Born Mar. 14, 1934, in Chicago. American pilot and astronaut. Captain in the navy.

Cernan graduated in 1956 from Purdue University in Lafayette, Ind., with a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering. He graduated from the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., receiving a master’s degree in aeronautical engineering. In 1963 he joined the National Aeronautics and Space Administration as an astronaut.

As copilot, Cernan completed a space flight aboard the Gemini 9 spacecraft from June 3 to 6, 1966, with T. Stafford. The craft completed 45 orbits around the earth in 72 hr 21 min, traveling approximately 1.8 million km. During the flight, Cernan walked in space for 2 hr 5 min. On the third orbit, a rendezvous with a target rocket was performed for the first time, and the possibility of a rendezvous on even earlier orbits was demonstrated. From May 18 to 26, 1969, together with T. Stafford and J. Young, Cernan circumnavigated the moon as lunar module pilot of the Apollo 10 spacecraft. The spacecraft went into lunar orbit May 21. With Cernan and Stafford aboard, the lunar module separated from the spacecraft and descended to an altitude of 15 km above the moon’s surface. After the lunar module docked with the spacecraft, the crew returned to earth. Cernan spent a total of 61 hr 40 min in lunar orbit.

From Dec. 7 to 19, 1972, together with H. Schmitt and R. Evans, Cernan completed a flight to the moon as commander of the Apollo 17 spacecraft. The lunar module, with Cernan and Schmitt aboard, landed at a site near the Taurus Mountains and the crater Littrow on Dec. 11, 1972. Cernan spent a total of 75 hr on the moon; the three periods of extravehicular activity lasted a total of 23 hr 12 min. He and Schmitt made use of a lunar rover while on the moon’s surface. In his three flights in space, Cernan flew for 566 hr 16 min.