Ronald Evans Jr.

Ronald Ellwin Evans, Jr. was an astronaut that worked with NASA on the Apollo missions and served as a Captain in the United States Navy. Evans is one of the twenty-four astronauts to fly to the moon.
Evans was born on November 10, 1933 in St. Francis, Kansas. He graduated from Highland Park High School in Topeka, Kansas. Boy Scouts of America played a huge role in Evans youth as he attained the highest level of Life Scout.

Evans then went on to study at the University of Kansas receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1956.  Later, he earned his Master of Science degree in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1964. His acclimates while attending school included Tau Beta Pi, Society of Sigma Xi and Sigma Nu.

Evans was also a member of the Naval ROTC program at the university. Once being commissioned as an Ensign in the Navy through the Navy, he was able to complete his flight training which would eventually lead to active duty in Vietnam War combat operations. Evans was assigned to sea duty in the Pacific. He flew the F-8 Crusader aircraft off of the USS Ticonderoga carrier after being assigned to VF-51 for seven months. It was on that mission that Evans learned of his acceptance to the NASA astronaut program.

Evans was selected as one of the 19 astronauts in April 1966 that served in the Apollo missions. He served in Apollo 7, Apollo 11 and as a backup command module pilot for Apollo-Soyuz Test Project mission (Apollo 14).

He made his first and only flight into space as command module pilot aboard Apollo 17 in 1972 where he remained in orbit on board the command module America. During the mission, he completed work that included visual geological observations using hand-held photography of specific targets and the control of cameras and other equipment carried in the SIM bay of the America. This mission was the last manned mission to the moon. Evans orbited around the moon while Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt made their way to the surface of the moon, specifically in the Taurus-Littrow Valley.

Evans was in space for 301 hours, 51 minutes. Some of that time, 1 hour and six-minutes, was spent retrieving three camera cassettes and completing a personal inspection of the equipment bay area during extravehicular activity. Evans holds the record for the most time spent in lunar orbit, six days and four hours.

After 21 years in the Navy, Evans retired on April 30, 1976 and a year later retired from NASA. Since the Apollo Missions he remained working on NASA’s Space Shuttle Program and focused on the launch and ascent phases of the program.

During his dual careers, he was distinguished with several awards. Evans was presented with the Navy Commendation Medal with combat distinguishing service in 1966, Johnson Space Center Superior Achievement Award in 1970. Then after being named the Kansan of the Year in 1972, he went on to be awarded the NASA Distinguished Service medal in 1973, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal in 1973, Navy Astronaut wings, the Vietnam Service Medal and eight Air Medals.

Evans later died of a heart attack in Scottsdale, Arizona on April 7, 1990 while pursuing a career in the coal industry.

Image Caption: Astronaut Ronald E. Evans. Credit: NASA/Wikipedia