Apollo 11 Command Module pilot Michael Collins passed away Wednesday. He was one of 24 American astronauts who flew to the moon in between 1968 and also 1972. Collins was occasionally referred to as “the loneliest male in history” due to the fact that while Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin descended to the lunar surface, he continued to be in orbit roughly the moon in the Apollo command module, much more isolated and alone in those few hours than any type of person on planet had ever been in history.

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Though 24 American astronauts have orbited the moon — and also three have actually made two trips there — only 12 have actually walked ~ above its surface. Of that dozen, 4 remain alive today.

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In December 1972, Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent around 75 hrs on the moon in the Taurus-Littrow valley. Close to the start of their third and final excursion across the lunar surface, Schmitt take it this photo of Cernan flanked by an American flag and also their lunar rover’s umbrella-shaped, high-gain antenna. Picture courtesy that Wikimedia Commons.

Eugene Cernan

Eugene Cernan to be a captain in the Navy, serving for two decades (13 of which were v NASA) and flying three historic missions as a pilot the Gemini 9, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 10, and also the commander of Apollo 17. Cernan flew to the moon twice and held the difference of being the 2nd American come walk in space and the last male to leaving his footprints on the lunar surface.

“I keep telling Neil Armstrong that we painted the white heat in the skies all the method to the Moon down to 47,000 feet therefore he wouldn’t gain lost, and also all he had actually to do was land,” Cernan famously joked in an interview through NASA in 2007. “Made it kind of simple for him.”

Cernan, sometimes referred to as “the last male on the moon,” died Jan. 16, 2017, at age 82.

Geologist-astronaut Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 lunar module pilot, offers an flexible sampling scoop come retrieve lunar samples throughout the 2nd extravehicular activity at terminal 5 at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. Lunar floor creates the “dirty” appearance of Schmitt’s spacesuit. Picture courtesy that Wikimedia Commons.

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Harrison H. Schmitt

Harrison Schmitt join the us Geological Survey’s Astrogeology Branch in 1964, leading the advancement of early on lunar field geological methods for NASA. A year later, he to be selected to become a scientist-astronaut and also earned his T-38 jet pilot wings v the Air force in 1966 and also his H-13 helicopter wings v the marine in 1967. Schmitt became the critical of 12 men to have stepped ~ above the moon when he was on the Apollo 17 mission, NASA’s last moon-landing mission. The is the only scientist to have walked top top the moon.