Last Man on the Moon

.
Apollo 17 (Mission Event: December 7–19, 1972) was the final mission of NASA's Apollo program; and it remains the last time humans have travelled beyond low Earth orbit. Her crew consisted of Commander Eugene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and a lesser known group of star voyagers…a box containing five mice named Fe, Fi, Fo, Fun, and Phooey.
Apollo 17 was classified as a "J-type mission” This was a NASA package deal that offered direct flight to Taurus-Littrow valley, three days on the Lunar sands, 3 local excursions, and the use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). Air Fare and meals included.
.
This mission commenced with a fuelled Saturn V on launch pad 39A, that weighed in at 6 million, five hundred and forty pounds. Her first stage consisted of 5 Rocketdyne F-1 rocket engines that produced a hefty Seven million, eight hundred, and ninety one pounds of thrust, for a burn time of 168 seconds. On the top of the mighty Saturn V was Apollo 17's Command Module named “America”, and Lunar Lander named “Challenger”.
.
Apollo 17 was launched at 05:33:00 UTC, (12:33 a.m. Eastern Standard Time) on December 7th, 1972, and as per mission parameters, at 3:46 am EST, the S-IVB third stage was re-ignited to propel the spacecraft towards the Moon.
At approximately 2:47 pm EST on December 10, the engine on the CSM ignited to slow down the CSM/LM stack into lunar orbit. Following orbit insertion and orbital stabilization, the crew began preparations for landing in the Taurus-Littrow valley.
.
Challenger separated from America with Evans remaining in lunar orbit in the CSM, taking scientific measurements and photographs. Several minutes after the descent phase was initiated, the LM pitched over, giving the crew their first look at the landing site. The LM touched down on the lunar surface at 2:55 pm EST on December 11. The first lunar excursion began four hours after landing, at 6:54 p.m. EST.
.
The first task was to offload the rover and other equipment from the LM. While working near the rover, Cernan caught his hammer under the right-rear fender extension, accidentally breaking it off. The crew attempted the worlds first lunar roadside repair with duct tape, and a map to the damaged fender. However lunar dust stuck to the tape's surface, preventing it from adhering properly.  
.
.
On that mission, Cernan and Schmitt had completed the longest-duration EVA in history to-date, traveling further away from a spacecraft and covering more ground on a planetary body during any single EVA of any other spacefarers.
.
December 14th, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 were preparing to depart the surface of the moon.
"Gene" Cernan paused as he was about to climb the ladder back into the LM, and said the following words...
.
"As I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I'd like to just say what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus–Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.
Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."
.
It is 46 years since these words were spoken...and we have yet to return.
.

 


Leave a comment