ALS signed “Eug. A. Cernan,” one page, 8.5 x 11, February 4, 1964. Letter to J. Duane Upton, in full: "This letter is in response to your request for my feelings and statement on the impact of our manned space program. You've asked a couple questions the responses to which are very different to condense into a simple statement. I'll do my best. Space exploration, at this period in the world of time, is a natural desire of man's intellect. It is more than just a dream of adventure; it is an opportunity to know what is unknown—what is not today even conceived in our finite minds. To say the impact upon future generations of the world will be tremendous is easy; to say what this impact will be is almost impossible. Your interest in the space program is sincerely appreciated." In fine condition. Prior to his selection into NASA's third astronaut group in October 1963, Cernan had positioned himself as a clear-cut candidate; he had earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the US. Naval Postgraduate School earlier that year, and he had accrued over 5,000 hours of flying time (4,800 in jet aircraft) as a Naval aviator. Two years from the date of this letter, the tragic deaths of Elliott See and Charles Bassett on February 28, 1966, resulted in the promotion of back-up crew Cernan and Tom Stafford as the new prime crew of Gemini 9. By the time of his retirement from the Navy in 1976, Cernan served on the prime and back-up crews for six missions, entered space on three occasions, and became immortalized in history as 'the last man on the moon.'
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.