Apollo 17

Apollo 17 was the final mission of NASA's Apollo program and the last mission as of 2019 in which humans have travelled to and walked on the Moon. Launched at 12:33 a.m. Eastern Standard Time (EST) on December 7, 1972, with a crew made up of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, it was the last use of Apollo hardware for its original purpose; after Apollo 17, extra Apollo spacecraft were used in the Skylab and Apollo–Soyuz programs. Apollo 17 was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the final crewed launch of a Saturn V rocket. It was a "J-type mission" which included three days on the lunar surface, extended scientific capability, and the third Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). While Evans remained in lunar orbit in the command and service module (CSM), Cernan and Schmitt spent just over three days on the Moon in the Taurus–Littrow valley and completed three moonwalks, taking lunar samples and deploying scientific instruments. Evans took scientific measurements and photographs from orbit using a scientific instruments module mounted in the service module. The landing site was chosen with the primary objectives of Apollo 17 in mind: to sample lunar highland material older than the impact that formed Mare Imbrium, and investigate the possibility of relatively new volcanic activity in the same area. Cernan, Evans, and Schmitt returned to Earth on December 19 after a 12-day mission. Apollo 17 is the most recent crewed Moon landing and the most recent time humans travelled beyond low Earth orbit. It was also the first mission to have no one on board who had been a test pilot; X-15 test pilot Joe Engle lost the lunar module pilot assignment to Schmitt, a geologist. The mission broke several records: the longest Moon landing, longest total extravehicular activities (moonwalks), largest lunar sample, and longest time in lunar orbit.


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