The Last Man on the Moon: Astronaut Eugene Cernan and America's Race in Space
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Eugene Cernan is a unique American who came of age as an astronaut during the most exciting and dangerous decade of spaceflight. His career spanned the entire Gemini and Apollo programs, from being the first person to spacewalk all the way around our world to the moment when he left man's last footprint on the Moon as commander of Apollo 17.
Between those two historic events lay more adventures than an ordinary person could imagine as Cernan repeatedly put his life, his family and everything he held dear on the altar of an obsessive desire. Written with New York Times bestselling author Don Davis, this is the astronaut story never before told - about the fear, love and sacrifice demanded of the few men who dared to reach beyond the heavens for the biggest prize of all - the Moon.
peculiar effort to sneak his way into history, and was met at every turn by angry stares and muttered insults from his fellow astronauts. How Neil put up with such nonsense for so long before ordering Buzz to stop making a fool of himself is beyond me. Two weeks after Apollo 10 returned from the Moon and experts reviewed the computer records, NASA declared that Apollo 11 would launch on July 16. Neil, Mike and Buzz were going to fly one for the ages. But as their training went into the final
twenty-two seconds, dashed down-range 302 miles and reached an altitude of a mere 116 miles, barely nibbling the bottom edge of outer space. This rocket was far more powerful than the primitive Redstone that carried him up in 1961, and this trip was going to be substantially longer, faster, higher and tougher. Shepard had mastered the Apollo system that was to ferry him, Stu Roosa and Ed Mitchell up to Fra Mauro. Criticism had been sharp: Apollo 14 was the Kid’s Last Flight, and Shepard, it was
where technicians would spend the next four months getting her ready to fly. Far below, I could hear the crunch and clank of the crawler’s giant treads, and by craning my neck to look straight up, I could see the point of the stack, wrapped in a protective shroud. The rocket gleamed in the morning sunshine. I felt like a tiny bug that had crawled into a metal sandwich. My God, these things are big! Our training had passed in a blur, but now I could see all the way to December, and launch day was
for uncounted eons and to which we had assigned properties ranging from religious icon and symbol of romance to maker of werewolves and clock for the harvest. Every night of my life it had been up there, patiently waiting for my visit. I lowered my left foot and the thin crust gave way. Soft contact. There, it was done. A Cernan bootprint was on the Moon. I had fulfilled my dream. No one could ever take this moment away. “As I step off at the surface of Taurus-Littrow, I’d like to dedicate the
thoughts as Tom and I started our descent, but this time we avoided the neighborhood as we swept in for a landing and quietly parked the plane on the ramp. It was always a long trip home from California, but this time I was reluctant to see it end. Finally alone, I drove home slowly, overwhelmed by a feeling of inadequacy. OUR NARROW STREET LOOKED like a parking lot as I arrived, stopped in my driveway, and turned off the ignition. Still wearing my sweat-stained yellow flight suit, I crossed