NASA Astronaut and Last Man to Walk On the Moon Gene Cernan Dead at 82

Mike Marsland/WireImage via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The last man to walk on the moon, NASA astronaut Gene Cernan, has died at 82.

Cernan was commander of the Apollo 17 mission, the final lunar landing, in December 1972. He and fellow astronaut Jack Schmitt spent three days on lunar excursions, and when Cernan took his last step on the moon he said, "We leave as we came, and God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind."

The astronaut was also a longtime consultant for ABC News.

NASA administrator and former astronaut Charles Bolden told ABC News Cernan didn't want to be the last astronaut to touch the moon. According to Bolden, if Cernan were still alive, he would say, "Let's get back to space and let's get back to the surface of the moon and on to Mars."

Bolden recalled from when he was first an astronaut that Cernan was a "young, swashbuckling test pilot turned astronaut."

"He was bold, brash, and confident, cocky almost - but incredibly proud of having been one of those few people who had actually had an opportunity to leave our planet and set foot on another body in our solar system," he told ABC News.

In a statement, the astronaut corps at the Johnson Space Center said: "Our heart is aching. The world has lost one of the greats. A true hero. RIP dear Gene. We are consoled knowing that he is reuniting with Neil Armstrong. The buds are back together."

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