Press Releases

19. 6. 200812:31

June 18, 2008: The Last Man on the Moon Supports Czech Republic’s Entry to the European Space Agency

Captain Eugene Cernan, the American astronaut with Czechoslovak ancestry, today met Czech Premier Mirek Topolánek. They agreed that thanks to its membership of the European Space Agency the Czech Republic will rank among major participants in space research. According to the Prime Minister, space research in the Czech Republic is marked primarily by practical applications of the new science and research methods. “Space research, satellite navigation and communications are today affecting our everyday life. It is the link between space technologies and our daily life that moves space research to one of the top places among technological disciplines vital for the national economy,“ said the Czech Premier.

One of the topics discussed with the American astronaut was also the key European space research programme – project Galileo*. Late in September 2006, the Czech Republic submitted its application to host the seat of the European office for the supervision of global satellite navigation systems, so far based in Brussels. The location of the project’s headquarters in Prague would give the Czech Republic an opportunity for the further development of research projects and for foreign investments.

During his meeting with Captain Eugene Cernan Czech Premier Mirek Topolánek was interested in learning about the flight of Apollo 17 spaceship in 1972. During that flight Cernan became the last man to walk on the surface of the Moon where he had also taken a Czechoslovak flag, which is now displayed in the National Museum in Prague.

Eugene Cernan, Captain of the US Army and an American astronaut of Czech-Slovak descent, was born in Chicago, Illinois, on March 14, 1934. His paternal grandparents (Štefan and Anna Černan) came from Vysoké nad Kysucou in Slovakia. His maternal grandparents (František and Rozálie Cihlář) lived in Bernatice near Tábor and Nuzice near Bechyně in South Bohemia. Cernan studied electrical engineering and aviation engineering, and served as a US Navy pilot. In 1964 he was admitted to the third group of US astronauts. Cernan´s maiden space flight came in 1966 onboard Gemini 9 and lasted three days. Cernan saw the Earth from the space for the second time onboard the spacecraft in May 1969, when he made 31 orbits of the Moon in Apollo 10. He stepped on the surface of the Moon during his third flight onboard Apollo 17 in 1972 as the spacecraft commander.

* Galileo is a global satellite navigation system that will be fully developed and operated by Europe. It will be based on the same principle as the current US GPS system and the Russian GLONASS system with which it will be compatible. Galileo is a joint initiative of the European Commission and the European Space Agency. Its aim is to create a European counterweight to the American Global Positioning System (GPS) used for navigation by the military as well as civilian pilots, ordinary drivers and hikers.