December 11, 1972: Apollo 17 Last Moon Landing
Apollo 17 was the final mission of the United States’ Apollo lunar landing program, and was the sixth landing of humans on the Moon. The three-member crew consisted of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt. [Photo above: Apollo 17 photo of the Earth as the spacecraft headed for the Moon now known as “The Blue Marble photo”]
Apollo 17 broke several records, 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.
Apollo 17 was the third mission to make use of a Lunar Roving Vehicle. The Apollo 17 LRV traveled a cumulative distance of approximately 22.3 mi in a total drive time of about four hours and twenty-six minutes; the greatest distance Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt traveled from the Lunar Module was about 4.7 mi.
Before reentering the LM for the final time, Gene Cernan expressed his thoughts:
“…I’m on the surface; and, 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.”
Last Men on the Moon – Incredible Footage
The insignia’s most prominent feature is an image of the Greek sun god Apollo back dropped by a rendering of an American eagle, the red bars on the eagle mirroring those on the flag of the United States. Three white stars above the red bars represent the three crewmen of the mission. The background includes the Moon, the planet Saturn and a galaxy or nebula. The wing of the eagle partially overlays the Moon, suggesting man’s established presence there. The gaze of Apollo and the direction of the eagle’s motion embody man’s intention to explore further destinations in space.
The patch includes, along with the colors of the U.S. flag (red, white, and blue), the color gold, representative of a “golden age” of spaceflight that was to begin with Apollo 17. The image of Apollo in the mission insignia is a rendering of the Apollo Belvedere sculpture. The insignia was designed by Robert McCall, with input from the crew.
Van Morrison, Dr John, Santana, Etta James & Tom Scott – Moondance