US astronaut Eugene Cernan, the last man to set foot on the moon, died Monday at age 82, NASA and his family announced.
Cernan was the spacecraft commander of Apollo 17 — his third space flight and the last scheduled US manned mission to the moon — in December 1972.
According to a family statement released by NASA, Cernan, a retired naval officer, died following ongoing health issues.
“It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father,” the family said.
“Our family is heartbroken, of course, and we truly appreciate everyone´s thoughts and prayers. Gene, as he was known by so many, was a loving husband, father, grandfather, brother and friend,” the statement added.
“Even at the age of 82, Gene was passionate about sharing his desire to see the continued human exploration of space and encouraged our nation´s leaders and young people to not let him remain the last man to walk on the moon.” The space community quickly took to Twitter to pay tribute to Cernan and honor his legacy.