40 years ago yesterday, the last men on the Moon returned home! Apollo 17 was the final mission of the United States’ Apollo lunar landing programme, and was the sixth landing of humans on the Moon.
It was launched just after mid-night on December 7, 1972. It consisted of a three member crew including, Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt. Apollo 17 was the last manned Moon Landing.
Apollo 17 was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight. It was also the final crewed launch of a Saturn V rocket. The mission included a three-day stay on the surface with extended scientific capability. They even got to drive a Lunar Rover! Cernan and Schmitt spent just over three days on the lunar surface in the Taurus-Littrow valley. They conducted three moonwalks, during which they collected lunar samples and deployed scientific instruments. Evan’s did not get the chance to step on the moon because he had to remain in lunar orbit above in the Command/Service Module. They returned back to Earth on December 19.
The crew spent three exciting, fun filled days on the moon, dancing and singing and laughing and having the time of their lives! They left behind a plaque that read, ‘ Here Man completed his first exploration of the Moon, December 1972 A.D. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind.’
Apollo 17 broke several records set by previous flights, including the longest manned lunar landing flight; the longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities; the largest lunar sample return, and the longest time in lunar orbit.
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