Last Men on the Moon
On December 19 1972—41 years ago today—Apollo 17 splashed back down on Earth in the South Pacific ocean. It was the last of six lunar landings during the Apollo program, and its return to Earth marked the program’s end. Astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent three days exploring the Taurus-Littrow lunar valley and taking samples of moon rock and soil—Schmitt was the first geologist and professional scientist on a NASA mission, and he was also the twelfth and final man to walk on the moon. After their lunar module, the Challenger, lifted off the surface of the moon, a statement from the White House was radioed to the astronauts: ”We are conscious not of what we leave behind, but of what lies before us. This may be the last time in this century that men will walk on the moon, but space exploration will continue, the benefits of space exploration will continue, and there will be new dreams to pursue, based upon what we have learned.” No human has set foot on another celestial body for 41 years.
(Image Credit: 1, 2)