17/01/2017 13:16 GMT

The Last Man To Walk On The Moon, Eugene Cernan, Has Died

'I kept telling Neil Armstrong that we made it sort of easy for him.'

The last man to walk on the Moon, Eugene Cernan, died on Monday following ongoing health issues. 

The 82-year-old American was the final astronaut to step foot on the lunar surface, during Apollo 17 mission, back in 1972. 

Bettmann via Getty Images

In a statement from his family they confirmed he had passed away on Monday, but did not disclose further details about the cause of death, saying: “It is with very deep sadness that we share the loss of our beloved husband and father.”

“Our family is heartbroken.” 

A spokesperson from NASA said they were “saddened by the loss” of the retired spaceman.

And NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said: “Truly, America has lost a patriot and pioneer who helped shape our country’s bold ambitions to do things that humankind had never before achieved.”

In his final expedition to the Moon, Captain Cernan was the last human to leave a footprint on the planet, saying: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return with peace and hope for all mankind.”

He was also one of only three people in history to visit the Moon twice, and one of twelve in total who have had the privilege of setting foot there. Only six astronauts who have planted a flag on the moon are still alive today.

In a 2007 interview, Cernan said, “I keep telling Neil Armstrong that we painted that white line in the sky all the way to the Moon down to 47,000 feet so he wouldn’t get lost, and all he had to do was land. Made it sort of easy for him,” according to NASA.

He is survived by his wife Jan Nanna Cernan, his daughter, two stepdaughters, and nine grandchildren.