Apollo 17 was the final manned mission to the lunar surface. The mission launched on December 7, 1972 from the Kennedy Space Center. This was the Saturn V rocket’s first night launch and would be a mission that would set many records that hold to this day. The crew under the command of the legendary Gene Cernan consisted of Ron Evans (Command Module Pilot) and Harrison Schmitt (Lunar Module Pilot). Cernan and Schmitt spent 3 days exploring the lunar surface, longer than any other men. Cernan made the final footsteps on the Moon in December 13, 1972. Before making his final steps and returning to the Lunar Module Cernan said, “…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.” May we soon return.
“It’s not just the end. Were not putting our rockets in the barn, and closing the door. We are just beginning to understand and accept the challenges that this universe has for us…” -Gene Cernan USN (Ret) (Gemini 9A, Apollo 10, and Apollo 17)