Cernan Earth and Space Center
Eugene A. Cernan, Capt. USN (Ret.)
The Cernan Earth and Space Center is named for astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, who flew aboard the Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and Apollo 17 space missions. As commander of the final Apollo mission, he was the last of 12 astronauts to leave his footprints on the moon and spent a record amount of time on the lunar surface. However, his accomplishments are certainly not limited to space exploration.
Born in Chicago, Ill., in 1934 and reared in its western suburbs of Broadview and Bellwood, Cernan graduated in 1952 from Proviso Township High School in Maywood, Ill. Four years later, he graduated from Purdue University with a bachelor of science degree in electrical engineering. In 1964, he received his master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. Cernan also attended the Wharton School of Finance and Northwestern University.
While at Purdue, he began his service to the United States when he became a Navy ROTC student. He was on active duty in 1956 and served aboard the USS Saipan prior to entering flight school in October 1956. Cernan received his wings in December 1957 and served as an attack pilot until he was accepted into the astronaut program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in October 1963. As a naval pilot, Cernan logged more than 5,000 hours of flying time (4,800 of these in jets) and made more than 200 carrier landings.
For NASA, Cernan participated in three separate flights. He was the second American to walk in space in the 1966 Gemini 9 mission. During the 1969 Apollo 10 mission, Cernan descended within 10 miles of the lunar surface. In December 1972, he landed on the moon as the commander of Apollo 17. After the Apollo 17 mission, Cernan became involved with the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, a joint U.S. and Soviet Union venture. He served as a senior U.S. negotiator during the discussions on the project. Cernan also actively participated in the design, engineering and development testing of spacecraft hardware and systems. He was a member of the NASA senior management team and reviewed decisions which directly affected operations and mission planning.
In July 1976, Cernan resigned from NASA and the Navy to join Coral Petroleum Inc. in Houston, Texas, as executive vice president. He left Coral Petroleum in 1981 to start his own company, The Cernan Corporation, to pursue management and consultant interests in the energy, aerospace and other related industries. Cernan has served as Chairman of the Board of Johnson Engineering Corporation, NASA's chosen contractor to provide Crew Station Support Services at the Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas. More recently, he served as Executive Consultant for Johnson Engineering's SpaceHab, Engineering Services division. Today, he is Chairman and CEO of The Cernan Corporation, where he continues his long-standing support of future programs for man to explore the solar system.
Cernan has served as technical consultant with the ABC Television Network in support of ABC News and Special Events programming, covering space and related documentary activities. He has received several honors, including honorary doctorate degrees in engineering from Purdue, Drexel and Gonzaga Universities, an honorary doctorate degree from Western State College of Law, the Navy Distinguished Flying Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal with Star, the NASA Distinguished Service Medal, the FAI International Gold Medal for Space, and the VFW Gold Space Award. Most recently, in July of 2000, Captain Cernan was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame.
In 1999, Captain Cernan completed his autobiography, entitled "The Last Man on the Moon," which was published by St. Martin's Press. To purchase a signed or unsigned copy of his book, please visit the Cernan Center's Star Store gift shop.
In part to honor the achievements of Captain Eugene Cernan, Triton College constructed the original Cernan Center building, which opened in 1974. In 1984, the Cernan Earth and Space Center re-opened in its current, larger facility.
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