4 October 2023

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Youngest Moon Walker Charles Duke Honored in South Carolina

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Youngest Moon Walker Charles Duke Honored in South Carolina

Astronaut Charles Duke, the youngest person to ever walk on the moon, has not forgotten his South Carolina roots despite his remarkable achievement. Duke, born in Charlotte, North Carolina, moved to South Carolina during his childhood years and attended high school in Lancaster. After completing his education, including a master’s degree in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT, Duke joined NASA’s Apollo program in 1966 as part of the fifth group of astronauts.

On April 20, 1972, at the age of 36, Duke took his historic steps on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission, earning him the distinction of being the youngest moon walker on Earth. Nearly a year later, he became the inaugural inductee into the South Carolina Hall of Fame. To commemorate the occasion, Duke left his footprints in cement in front of the Myrtle Beach Convention Center.

The footprints, known as “moonprints,” are easily recognizable with their wide soles and straight, thick ribs. Due to mild weather and their location slightly off the beaten path, Duke’s footprints have remained largely intact. A plaque beneath the footprints provides a brief description of Duke’s moonwalk and his induction into the South Carolina Hall of Fame.

During Apollo 16, Duke spent 71 hours on the moon’s surface as a lunar module pilot and collected a record 210 pounds of lunar rock samples. As a personal touch, he left a photo of himself, his wife, and his two sons on the moon’s surface, which still remains to this day.

If you visit the Myrtle Beach Convention Center, you can find Duke’s moonprints in the plaza, marked a circle of flagpoles. While stepping into the prints is not encouraged, it is a great opportunity to take photos and appreciate this historical landmark. The convention center also houses the South Carolina Hall of Fame, where you can explore the accomplishments of other notable South Carolinians such as musician Darius Rucker, state historian Mary Chevillette Simms Oliphant, and jazz trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

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– Apollo program: The NASA space program that achieved the first manned moon landing in 1969.
– Lunar module: A spacecraft designed to land on the moon and transport astronauts to and from the lunar surface.
– South Carolina Hall of Fame: A prestigious honor recognizing individuals who have made significant contributions to South Carolina’s culture, history, and society.
– Myrtle Beach Convention Center: A multi-purpose facility located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, that hosts various events and conventions.