Moon’s Last Man Chats with the International Space Station Crew
International Space Station commander Kevin Ford and hisU. S., Russian and Canadian crewmates received praise from Apollo 17 commander Gene Cernan on Wednesday and encouragement to serve as an inspiration to the world’s young people.
“I’m envious,” Cernan, whose lunar mission unfolded in December 1972, told the station’s six man crew in a video conference from NASA’s Mission Control.
“I wish I could be up there. You are doing a heckuva great job, and you’ve got a big legacy to build upon. And from where you leave off, we’re going to get those kids down here excited about pressing on and going even further.”
Cernan, who is nearing his 79th birthday, was the last person to stand on the moon’s surface. He also flew to the moon aboard Apollo 10, which circled the lunar terrain as a warm-up for Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s Apollo 11 landing in July 1969. Cernan was the second American to walk in space as a member of the two-man Gemini IX orbital rendezvous mission three years earlier.
The Apollo 17 commander reminisced about his experiences and the rustic living conditions.
“You guys are living in a hotel, a palace up there,” noted Cernan. “I got to go back to the Gemini days, when you had to share elbow room with your buddy and you never got out of your space suit.”
The ISS has the living space of a five bedroom house, workout facilities and other amenities, including a galley and two restrooms.
“I could go on and on,” joked Cernan. “We didn’t even have hot water on the moon for a cup of coffee. It tells us how far we have come — and how far we have to go.”
Ford, who just passed the 100 day mark of his stay on the station, seemed awed.
“Yours is an enviable story,” he remarked. “We can’t compete with that.”
Yes, but future generations will, according to Cernan.
“We used to look at it as if we stood on the shoulders of the nation’s giants,” said Cernan. “Remember when you guys get back, the job is not done. You are the shoulders for the kids to stand upon.”