Buzz Aldrin, First Person to Land on Moon,...

Buzz Aldrin, First Person to Land on Moon, Joins the Last Crew to Land on Moon for 40th Anniversary Event

Museum Celebrates America’s Race to the Moon: Mercury, Gemini and Apollo

San Diego, 11.18.2012


San Diego, CA - November 19, 2012 - On December 1st, the last people to walk on the moon, Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt, will join the family of the late Ron Evans at the San Diego Air & Space Museum for a special 40th Anniversary Celebration of their historic mission. The evening also honors America’s race to the moon, celebrating the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs. This celebration is the only of its kind on the west coast.

Special guests that evening include: Buzz Aldrin (Apollo 11), Gene Cernan (Apollo 17), Jack Schmitt (Apollo 17), Family of the late Ron Evans (Apollo 17), Dick Gordon (Apollo 12), Charlie Duke (Apollo 16), Scott Carpenter (Mercury Aurora 7) and others.

The Museum is offering a very special and rare opportunity to meet the last crew of astronauts to journey to the moon and those who helped them get there. The special evening allows attendees to meet three of the two spacefarers, other Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts and mission control specialists. Guests have the opportunity to hear their awe-inspiring tales of leaving our planet and travelling to another world.

For more information and to purchase tickets, please visit

Proceeds from the evening benefit the Museum's education programs.

The Class of 2012:

The Apollo program is considered the pinnacle of human exploration. However, it could not have happened without two vital programs that came before it – Mercury and Gemini. The Mercury program was America’s first human foray into space, sending six astronauts solo on increasingly complex missions, including the flight of John Glenn. The two-seat Gemini craft that followed it was the first American spacecraft capable of changing orbit, rendezvousing, docking, and allowing astronauts to perform spacewalks. Over ten manned flights, carried out in under ten years, these vital skills were learned and practiced. Without these two programs, the Apollo program would not have been possible.

Apollo 17 was the sixth and last mission to land humans on the moon. Launched on December 7, 1972, on the final manned flight of the enormous Saturn V rocket, Apollo 17 reached the moon three days later. Cernan and Schmitt would explore a region of the moon known as the valley of Taurus-Littrow. After a successful landing, the two astronauts set foot on the lunar surface and deployed the lunar rover, the car that would help them traverse long distances during their lunar explorations. Over three days, the duo spent longer exploring the lunar surface than any other mission, and resulted in more moon samples returned to Earth than any other mission. They included discovering an orange “soil,” made of tiny volcanic glass spheres. Splashdown on December 19 brought an end to the longest lunar landing mission of the entire program. Perhaps more importantly than the science results, the Apollo 17 mission continues to provide inspiration for future generations to go back to the moon, and beyond.

The Apollo 17 crew:

Gene Cernan: is one of a very small group of people who had the good fortune to visit the moon twice. His first flight, however, was aboard Gemini 9 in 1966, when he made a daring and risky spacewalk. He first flew to the moon as the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, swooping to just a few miles of the lunar surface on a dry run of the following Apollo 11 mission. Apollo 10 tested everything Apollo 11 would do other than the actual landing, before heading back to Earth. When speeding back through Earth’s atmosphere, Apollo 10 broke the record for the fastest ever manned vehicle, a distinction it still holds. Gene Cernan’s last flight was as the commander of Apollo 17. Leaving the very last footprints on the moon (for now), Cernan ended the lunar surface explorations by stating “As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I'd like to just say what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”

Jack Schmitt: Who was truly the last man on the moon? As the twelfth of twelve to set foot on the surface, Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, could make that claim, although as his commander Gene Cernan will point out, Gene stayed outside longer and took the final steps on the moon. Schmitt’s record is undisputed, however, as being the only professional geologist to work on the moon’s surface. Having worked on training astronauts in geology in Arizona, Schmitt was chosen as one of NASA’s first scientist-astronauts in 1965. Seven years later he was on the surface of the moon, putting his extensive training to good use in one of the moon’s most geologically intriguing sites.

Ron Evans: spent three days alone orbiting the moon while his two colleagues worked on the surface, operating scientific instruments and cameras that explored new regions of the moon from above. On the way back to Earth, when it was time to collect the film from these scientific cameras, Evans performed a one-hour spacewalk in the deep space between Earth and moon to retrieve them. Apollo 17 was his only spaceflight, although he also served on a number of Apollo backup crews. Ron Evans passed away in April, 1990.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum is California's official air and space museum and education center. The Museum is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution, and it was the first aero-themed Museum to be accredited by the American Association of Museums. Now on display, "How Things Fly" a special exhibition that examines the wonder of flight through four fun and interactive zones. The Museum is located at 2001 Pan American Plaza, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92101. The Museum and gift store are open daily from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Closed Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day.

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