Image: Captain Eugene Cernan
Stephen Chernin  /  Getty Images File
Captain Eugene Cernan discusses the photo behind him May 7, 2004 at the Hayden Planetarium in New York City. Cernan flew on Gemini 9, Apollo 10 and was the last man to walk on the moon as a member of Apollo 17 in December of 1972, when he made the photo of Taurus-Litrow Valley on the moon.
updated 1/16/2009 10:38:00 AM ET 2009-01-16T15:38:00

Former astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, a 1956 Purdue University graduate and the most recent person to walk on the moon, is donating his personal papers to the school's flight archives.

The Purdue collection also includes the papers of Neil Armstrong, who in 1969 became the first to walk on the moon, and Amelia Earhart, the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and a Purdue staff member in the 1930s.

Cernan, one of 14 astronauts selected by NASA in 1963, went into space three times. As a pilot on Gemini 9, he became the second person to walk in space in 1966; he was a lunar module pilot on Apollo 10 in 1969; and he was commander of Apollo 17 in 1972, when he became the last to walk on the moon's surface.

"Eugene Cernan set an example of singular achievement for students at Purdue," said Purdue President France Cordova, who is an astrophysicist and a former NASA chief scientist. "His legacy is for the world and the ages. We're honored that he has chosen to donate his collections to Purdue and that he continues to remember his alma mater."

Cernan and Armstrong are among 22 Purdue graduates who have been astronauts.

Cernan, a 74-year-old Chicago native, received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from Purdue.

After retiring from the Navy in 1976, he joined Coral Petroleum Inc. as executive vice president of its international division. In 1981 he started his own consulting business, the Cernan Corp., in Houston, where he lives.

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