May 4, 2023

National Astronaut Day Thoughts about Charlie Duke

One stellar astronaut I had the absolute pleasure of meeting is Charlie Duke, Apollo Astronaut and the youngest man to ever walk on the moon. I first met Mr. Duke during the Apollo 8 50th Anniversary Celebration in Dallas in October of 2018.  Charlie Duke is known for his never ending outreach of all things space related including Back To Space, a program in which I served as a Student Ambassador that works to reignite passion for the Apollo era and promotes space exploration. During one of his interviews over the weekend, Mr. Duke went into detail about a story many space-enthusiasts know well.

In 1972, Charlie was performing a space walk on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission.. In order to honor the start of the Olympic games, he performed a “High Jump” on the moon and landed on his back which could have damaged his life support systems. His jumps were called the “Lunar Olympics”. He regards it as one of the fondest and scariest memories he had as an astronaut on the moon, and it certainly makes for a good story.

I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Duke again during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Apollo 11 mission. He is brilliant, engaging and awe-inspiring.  Charlie and his wife, Dotty, are two of the kindest people I have ever met. I aspire to be just as engaging, humble, and well accomplished as Mr. and Mrs. Duke when I get the opportunity to soar to and return from space.

About the author

Autumn Pepper Rhodes is a highschool senior turned private pilot, aerospace enthusiast, and youth aviation advocate. She attends Cypress Lake High School and is dual enrolled at Florida Gulf Coast University, but in the Fall of 2023 she will be attending Rice University in Houston, TX. She also loves the artistic side of life, like participating in community and school theatre. Autumn wants to share her passion for space exploration and aviation with the world, and intends to one day become an Airline Pilot and Astronaut.

Autumn Pepper Rhodes

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