Eugene Cernan, whose tribute to his daughter in the most recent moonwalk has ingrained him in pop culture, died Monday, according to NASA. He was 82.
Cernan was the commander of Apollo 17 in 1972 and the last crew member to re-enter the lunar module. Just before the module was set to leave, Cernan dropped to one knee and etched his daughter’s initials, “TDC,” on the moon’s surface.
Because the moon has no wind or atmosphere, it will likely remain there forever.
The story became immortalized in a hit a song by No More Kings, “Tracy’s Song,” as well as the 20th episode of third season of ABC’ “Modern Family.”
The account of his journey was told in several movies and documentaries, including the 2007 British documentary “In the Shadow of the Moon,” and Discovery Channel’s 2008 docu-series “When We Left Earth: The NASA Missions,” narrated by Gary Sinise. He was also portrayed by Daniel Hugh Kelly in the 1998 Primetime Emmy Award-winning HBO miniseries “From the Earth to the Moon.”
More recently, Cernan appeared in the 2016 documentary “The Last Man on the Moon.”
Cernan logged 566 hours and 15 minutes in space, 73 hours of them on the surface of the moon, according to NASA.
A Chicago native, he received an electrical engineering degree from Purdue and a Masters of Science in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. In 1963, he was selected by NASA for its third group of astronauts, eventually retiring in 1976.
Details of his death were not made public.
— NASA (@NASA) January 16, 2017