Life beyond the Moon - what happened to the 12 Moonwalkers?

On July 16, 1969, three men were launched into space from Cape Kennedy aboard Apollo 11. Four days later, two of them would become the first men to set foot on the Moon.

Just 12 men, including Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, have walked on the Moon. Each of them is remembered for their space-faring feats, but what became of NASA's heroes following their voyage of a lifetime?

Moonwalkers complete set photographs

Neil Armstrong

Neil Armstrong will forever be remembered as the first man to place his feet on the dusty lunar surface, a move that rocketed him to international fame and celebrity.

However, the aeronautical engineering graduate was never comfortable in the limelight and retired from NASA in 1971, taking up a teaching position at the University of Cincinnati.

He remained with the university until 1979, when he became the chairman of computing technologies for Aviation Inc in Virginia.

Armstrong was rarely seen in the public spotlight, despite collecting honours from 17 different countries. It wasn't until 2005 that he briefly returned to promote the biography First Man by James Hansen.

Neil Armstrong passed away in August 2012, aged 82.

See our Neil Armstrong autograph on a LIFE magazine cover for sale

Buzz Aldrin

Armstrong's companion on the Apollo 11 voyage, Buzz Aldrin, was far more at home with his newfound celebrity and has continued to research the potential of space exploration.

He too retired from NASA in 1971, and now lectures and writes books about the US' future in space. He has also proposed a plan to reach Mars and received three patents for a modular space station.

We currently have a rare autographed first edition of Aldrin's Magnificent Desolation for sale.

Charles "Pete" Conrad

Conrad's launch into space is known as one of the most harrowing of the Apollo program, with a series of lightning strikes knocking out power and guidance in the command module aboard Apollo 12 soon after lift off.

Nonetheless, Conrad is remembered as the original space cowboy, and a diminutive one at that. Known for his plucky personality, the small statured Conrad hummed as he stepped out, before exclaiming: "Woopee! Man, that may have been a small one for Neil, but that's a long one for me!"

He went on to lead a career with aerospace manufacturer McDonnell Douglas, as well as as a test pilot of the Delta Clipper launch vehicle.

Conrad died in 1999 following a motorcycle crash in Ojai, California.

Alan Bean

Alan Bean touched down with Conrad as part of the Apollo 12 mission.

He has always felt that his time on the lunar surface was far too short and has attempted to replicate the feeling of the mission through a series of paintings.

He described landing on the Moon as a life-changing experience, and while in orbit, vowed to live his life differently.

In 1981 he retired from NASA to take up art full-time, with each of his paintings including a small piece of Moon memorabilia.

Alan Shepard

Alan Shepard was actually the first American to journey into space, but he wouldn't get his turn on the Moon until 1971, when he became the fifth person to walk on the lunar surface as part of the Apollo 14 mission.

His time on the Moon is best remembered for the "scientific experiment" that he carried out while there. An avid golfer, he took out his makeshift club and a set of balls and whacked a few shots into the universe, stating that one went for "miles and miles and miles".

After Apollo, he resumed his position at NASA, before joining with other astronauts to form the Mercury Seven Foundation to raise money for scholarships in science and engineering.

He died in July 1998 after a long battle with leukemia.

Edgar Mitchell

Apollo 14's Edgar Mitchell is known as the favourite of conspiracy theorists. Following his 1971 journey to the Moon, Mitchell has revealed that alien visits to Earth have been covered up by governments for more than 60 years.

Interestingly, he grew up in Roswell, New Mexico.

In April 2013, he spoke following the X-Conference, a UFO researcher and activist conference:

"We are being visited," he told the press, according to the Guardian newspaper. "It is now time to put away this embargo of truth about the alien presence. I call upon our government to open up…"

James Irwin

Landing on the Moon has had a profound effect on many of the 12 Moonwalkers, including James Irwin, who retired from NASA just a year after his 1971 Apollo 15 mission to found the religious organisation, High Flight Foundation.

According to the web site, the organisation is designed to encourage others to experience "the Highest Flight possible with God".

As part of this, Irwin led his own voyages to Mount Ararat in search of evidence of Noah's Ark.

He died in 1991 of a heart attack.

David Scott

Aged 39, Apollo 15's David Scott felt he had reached the pinnacle of his career when he stepped on the Moon and would have to start looking around for the next challenge.

However, he stayed with NASA for six further years as director of the NASA Dryden Flight Research Centre.

In 1977, he founded Scott Science and Technology, which specialises in a space project management.

Like many astronauts, Scott has also published books, such as his 2004 work Two Sides of the Moon: Our Story of the Cold War Space Race, which is written in collaboration with Russian astronaut Alexei Leonov.

John Young

Apollo 16's John Young led the longest career with NASA following his Moon visit. He stayed with the organisation for 42 years, before retiring in 2004.

He has since advocated a return to the Moon and further space exploration, stating that we need to learn how to use the resources that the Moon has to offer in order to save the planet.

Charles Duke

The youngest man to walk on the Moon, Duke was just 36 when he stepped out of Apollo 16 in 1972. He also spent one of the longest periods on the surface - a total of 71 hours.

However, he decided to move away from space exploration in later life and started a drinks company, Orbit Corp, as well as participating in real estate development.

He is currently the president of Duke Ministry for Christ.

Eugene Cernan

Another astronaut moved by his journey towards the heavenly bodies, Cernan has turned towards spirituality in later life since his 1972 Apollo 17 mission.

The last man to leave the Moon's surface is now on the board of directors for the Young Astronaut Council and the US Space Foundation, as well as serving as a special consultant to ABC News.

Harrison "Jack" Shmitt

Cernan's fellow Apollo 17 astronaut Schmitt spent a total of 10 years with NASA, but left to run for the US Senate in his home state of New Mexico.

He spent one term as a Republican, contributing to the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee among others.

He has since worked as a consultant, freelance writer and a public speaker on space and technology.

Commemorate the incredible lives of these remarkable men with our complete set of signed photographs from each of the 12 Moonwalkers. This astonishing collection features a great portrait of each astronaut complete with a bold signature, in a set that would be extremely difficult to compile today.

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