The 6-Year-Old Who Donated His Piggy Bank to NASA Just Got a Call From an Astronaut

"This is Gene Cernan calling. I'm the last person to have walked on the moon."

Six-year-old Connor Johnson wants to be an astronaut. To realize that dream, however, he needs NASA to have a fully functioning space program when he's an adult—so he has started a White House petition to give the agency more funding. "A lot of people want NASA to come back," Johnson says. "Even grown-ups." NASA, of course, has not gone away, per se; it is in danger, however, of losing some of the funding for its space exploration missions—the funding that would send humans back to the moon, and maybe to Mars. In support of his efforts, Johnson has gotten publicity (including from me, because 6-year-old would-be astronaut).

He has also, he says, received emails and phone calls from people around the world, expressing their support for his efforts. On Wednesday, though, he got a particularly awesome communication. The caller introduced himself like so:

"I am an astronaut. This is Gene Cernan calling. I'm the last person to have walked on the moon."

To which Johnson replied: "WHOA."

It was a meaningful (if, definitely, promotional) call in several ways. Cernan was phoning the young protonaut, he noted, on "the exact day that I stopped on the moon many, many years ago."

And what, Johnson wanted to know, was the last thing he saw as he left the moon those 41 years ago?

"Looking back home at the beautiful Earth that you and I live on," Cernan replied.

The call concluded with some advice: "You've got to dream about things that a lot of other people think you can't do," Cernan said. Then he got a little more demanding: "Take us back to the moon," he told Johnson. "Take us to Mars." And "just remember," the veteran astronaut told the aspiring one, "I will always be with you on every trip you take."

Presented by

Megan Garber is a staff writer at The Atlantic.

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well. Bestselling author Mark Bittman teaches James Hamblin the recipe that everyone is Googling.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

How to Cook Spaghetti Squash (and Why)

Cooking for yourself is one of the surest ways to eat well.

Video

Before Tinder, a Tree

Looking for your soulmate? Write a letter to the "Bridegroom's Oak" in Germany.

Video

The Health Benefits of Going Outside

People spend too much time indoors. One solution: ecotherapy.

Video

Where High Tech Meets the 1950s

Why did Green Bank, West Virginia, ban wireless signals? For science.

Video

Yes, Quidditch Is Real

How J.K. Rowling's magical sport spread from Hogwarts to college campuses

Video

Would You Live in a Treehouse?

A treehouse can be an ideal office space, vacation rental, and way of reconnecting with your youth.

More in Technology

Just In