Apollo 17 was the eleventh manned space mission in the NASA Apollo program. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission of the Apollo program. The mission was launched on December 7, 1972, and concluded on December 19. As of 2008, it remains the most recent manned Moon landing.
Joe Engle was the originally selected as the LMP, but once it became clear that Apollo 17 would be the last lunar flight, the scientific community pressed NASA to select a scientist-astronaut to land on the Moon. This led to Schmitt, a trained geologist, being removed from the crew of the now cancelled Apollo 18 and replacing Engle on 17.
20° 11' 26.88" N - 30.1° 46' 18.05" E
The splashdown point was 17° 52′ S, 166° 7′ W, 350 nautical miles (650 km) SE of the Samoan Islands and 6.5 km (4 mi) from the recovery ship USS Ticonderoga. Apollo 17 landed approximately 640 meters from its target point.
One of the last two men to set foot on the Moon was also the first scientist-astronaut, geologist Harrison ("Jack") Schmitt. While Evans circled in America, Schmitt and Cernan collected a record 109 kg (240 pounds) of rocks during three Moonwalks. The crew roamed for 34 km (21 miles) through the Taurus-Littrow valley in their rover, discovered orange-colored soil, and left the most comprehensive set of instruments in the ALSEP on the lunar surface. Their mission was the last in the Apollo lunar landing missions. The last 4 Apollo crafts were used for the three Skylab missions and the ASTP, mission in 1975.
The landing site for this mission was on the southeastern rim of the Mare Serenitatis, in the southwestern Montes Taurus. This was a dark mantle between three high, steep massifs, in an area known as the Taurus-Littrow region. Pre-mission photographs showed boulders deposited along the bases of the mountains, which could provide bedrock samples. The area also contained a landslide, several impact craters, and some dark craters which could be volcanic.
A J-class mission, featuring the Lunar Rover, they conducted three lunar surface excursions, lasting 7.2, 7.6 and 7.3 hours. The mission returned 110.5 kg (243.6 lb) of samples from the Moon.
The Command module is currently on display at NASA's Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. The lunar module impacted the Moon on December 15 1972 at 06:50:20.8 UT (1:50 AM EST) at 19.96 N, 30.50 E.
On this mission the astronauts took a famous photograph of the earth known as "The Blue Marble", which shows the almost the entire continent of Africa and the continent of Antartica. The other lunar landing missions that photographed the earth shortly after lunar orbit insertion showed the western hemisphere.
"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."
"Okay, Jack. Let's get this mother outta here."
The Lunar Module Challenger impacted the Moon 15 December 1972 at 06:50:20.8 UT (1:50 AM EST) 19.96 N, 30.50 E.
Additionally, there have been fictional astronauts in film, literature and television who have been described as "the last man to walk on the moon," implying they were crew members on Apollo 17. One such character was Steve Austin in the television series The Six Million Dollar Man. In the 1972 novel Cyborg, upon which the series was based, Austin remembers watching the Earth "fall away during Apollo XVII." In an episode of the series, Austin clearly states that he flew on "Apollo 17". Another example is the character of Captain Tanner in the science fiction film Deep Impact.
The mission patch for Apollo 17 was used for the mission patch for the NASA space ship Charybdis in an episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" entitled "The Royale".
In WALL-E, the main characters flying away from Earth pass the Moon and the landing site of Apollo 17 (or perhaps one of the other "J" missions: Apollo 15 and 16). Behind the landing site one sees a large sign on the lunar surface exclaiming the future site of a shopping mall.
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