James Oberg writes that we may soon see a time where no living human has been on the moon.
Its a thought I’ve had for quite a while now (not that there is anything super special or original about it). Given the mention Oberg’s mention, here is a run down of everyone who has been to the moon. (for the purposes of this, I’ll be conservative and count people who have orbited the moon as having been to the moon)
Exactly 12 men have walked on the moon and exactly 12 men have orbited the moon without walking on it. There are exactly 9 left in each category. The “youngest” is 68, and pretty much everyone else is in their 70s.
The clock is running. As a group, they have all aged well. That is to be expected as they were chosen in part because their fitness. The question is, when will the last one die, and will humans go back before the last one kicks the bucket?
Given the advances in medical technology and their longevity as a group, its reasonable to expect at least one to reach the age of 100. So we can assume there will be one guy in the club left by 2035. The question then is, will the last survivor be around to see the next guy set foot?
If we include the group of guys who orbited the moon, its much more probable. Orbiting the moon is much easier than landing and coming back. We could probably do it in 5 years if we have the will, and the cost would be a fraction of landing. The Chinese could do it too. They’ve talked about it and it would be a big prestige thing for them, especially considering the Russians never were able to do it.
Here is an even better question (especially for me): will I be around to see it? I was born exactly one month after Apollo 11 returned to Earth. I was among the first humans born who never knew a time where we hadn’t been on the moon. That I something I’d like to see, as I really dont’ remember the first time. (I do remember watching some footage of Skylab on TV however, and and vividly remember watching photos from the Viking lander in 1976).
Anyway, I wouldn’t put any of these guys in your dead pool for at least a few decades.
Aldrin, Buzz Apollo 11 74 Walked
Armstrong, Neil Apollo 11 73 Walked
Bean Alan Apollo 12 72 Walked
Cernan, Eugene Apollo 10, 17 70 Walked
Conrad, Charles Apollo 12 1999 Walked
Duke, Charles Apollo 16 68 Walked
Irwin, James Apollo 15 1991 Walked
Mitchell, Edgar Apollo 14 73 Walked
Schmitt, Harrison Apollo 17 69 Walked
Scott, David Apollo 15 72 Walked
Shepard, Alan Apollo 14 1998 Walked
Young, John Apollo 10, 16 73 Walked
Anders, William Apollo 8 71 Orbited
Borman, Frank Apollo 8 76 Orbited
Collins, Michael Apollo 11 74 Orbited
Evans, Ronald Apollo 17 1990 Orbited
Gordon, Richard Apollo 12 74 Orbited
Haise, Fred Apollo 13 70 Orbited
Lovell, James Apollo 8, 13 76 Orbited
Mattingly, Ken Apollo 16 68 Orbited
Roosa, Stewart Apollo 14 1994 Orbited
Stafford, Thomas Apollo 10 73 Orbited
Swigert, Jack Apollo 13 1982 Orbited
Worden, Alfred Apollo 15 72 Orbited