The Apollo missions, which took place between 1969 and 1972, were a monumental achievement in human history. These missions saw a total of 24 astronauts journey to the moon and back, leaving an indelible mark on our understanding of outer space.
However, as time passes and the years go by, the question arises: how many of these brave individuals are still with us today? The answer is not as straightforward as one might think.
In this discussion, we will explore the current status of the Apollo astronauts, their remarkable accomplishments, and the legacy they have left behind.
Apollo 11 Astronauts
The Apollo 11 astronauts, Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins, made history as the first humans to successfully land on the moon on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong, the mission commander, famously took the first step onto the lunar surface and uttered the iconic words, 'That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.' Buzz Aldrin followed shortly after, and together they conducted experiments, collected samples, and planted the American flag.
Meanwhile, Michael Collins remained in lunar orbit, piloting the Command Module, waiting for Armstrong and Aldrin's return. Their historic achievement not only demonstrated the capabilities of human space exploration but also ignited a wave of inspiration and awe around the world. Their names will forever be etched in the annals of space exploration.
Apollo 12 Astronauts
The Apollo 12 mission, which followed the historic success of Apollo 11, introduced a new group of astronauts tasked with continuing the exploration of the moon. This mission, launched on November 14, 1969, aimed to land on the Ocean of Storms region of the moon. The crew consisted of Commander Charles 'Pete' Conrad Jr., Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr., and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean.
Notable facts about the Apollo 12 astronauts include:
- Conrad became the third person to walk on the moon.
- Gordon remained in lunar orbit aboard the command module 'Yankee Clipper' while Conrad and Bean explored the lunar surface.
- Bean was the fourth person to walk on the moon and later became an accomplished artist, capturing his experiences on canvas.
Despite the passing of Conrad in 1999, both Gordon and Bean are still alive as of the time of this writing.
Apollo 14 Astronauts
After the successful mission of Apollo 12, the focus shifted to the next lunar exploration endeavor, Apollo 14, which brought forth a new set of astronauts ready to embark on the challenging journey to the moon.
The three astronauts chosen for the Apollo 14 mission were Alan Shepard, Stuart Roosa, and Edgar Mitchell. Alan Shepard, the commander of the mission, became the first American to travel to space in 1961 and was now set to become the fifth man to walk on the moon.
Stuart Roosa served as the command module pilot, responsible for orbiting the moon while Shepard and Mitchell explored its surface. Unfortunately, both Shepard and Mitchell have since passed away, leaving Stuart Roosa as the sole surviving Apollo 14 astronaut.
Apollo 15 Astronauts
The crew selected for the Apollo 15 mission included astronauts David Scott, Alfred Worden, and James Irwin. As of now, all three astronauts from the Apollo 15 mission have passed away. Here is a breakdown of their current status:
- David Scott:
- David Scott, the commander of Apollo 15, passed away on August 19, 2022, at the age of 88.
- He was the seventh person to walk on the moon and served as the commander of the mission.
- Alfred Worden:
- Alfred Worden, the command module pilot of Apollo 15, passed away on March 18, 2020, at the age of 88.
- He was responsible for orbiting the moon while his fellow crew members explored the lunar surface.
- James Irwin:
- James Irwin, the lunar module pilot of Apollo 15, passed away on August 8, 1991, at the age of 61.
- He became the eighth person to walk on the moon and played a crucial role in the mission's success.
Despite their passing, the legacy of these Apollo 15 astronauts and their contributions to space exploration will always be remembered.
Apollo 16 & 17 Astronauts
Apollo 16 and 17 were the final two missions of the Apollo program. The astronauts selected for these missions made significant contributions to the exploration of the moon.
Apollo 16, launched on April 16, 1972, was commanded by John W. Young. Charles M. Duke Jr. served as the lunar module pilot and Thomas K. Mattingly II as the command module pilot. During their stay on the moon, Young and Duke conducted three moonwalks, collecting valuable samples and conducting scientific experiments.
Apollo 17, launched on December 7, 1972, was commanded by Eugene A. Cernan. Harrison H. Schmitt served as the lunar module pilot and Ronald E. Evans as the command module pilot. This mission marked the last time humans have set foot on the moon. Cernan and Schmitt's scientific research and discoveries continue to shape our understanding of the moon's geology and history.