Apollo 17


Apollo 17 was the final Apollo mission to the moon, the eleventh manned Apollo mission, the first night launch and the sixth and final lunar landing mission of the NASA Apollo program.

Apollo 17 Crew

Apollo 17 broke several records set by previous flights, including longest manned lunar landing flight, largest lunar sample return, longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities and longest time in lunar orbit.

The Apollo 17 crew were:

1. Eugene Cernan (Commander) – flew as co-pilot of Gemini 9 in June 1966 and as lunar module pilot of Apollo 10 in May 1969.

2. Ronald B. Evans (Command Module Pilot) –  He served as a member of the astronaut support crews for the Apollo 7 and Apollo 11 flights and as backup command module pilot for Apollo 14. Evans’ first and only space flight was as command module pilot of Apollo 17.

3. Harrison ‘Jack’ Schmitt (Lunar Module Pilot) – Schmitt was a geologist and was the first scientist to walk on the Moon. He was on the backup crew for Apollo 15 and was to fly as Lunar Module Pilot on Apollo 18. After the cancellation of the Apollo 18 moon mission he was assigned to fly on Apollo 17, the last lunar mission.

The backup crew for Apollo 17 were:

1. John Young (Commander) – flew on Gemini 3, Gemini 10, Apollo 10, Apollo 16 and on Space Shuttle STS-1 and STS-9.
2. Stuart Roosa (Command Module Pilot) – flew on Apollo 14.
3. Charles Duke (Lunar Module Pilot) – flew on Apollo 16.

Apollo 17 Mission

The mission was a J-class mission and featured the Lunar Rover. Three lunar surface excursions were conducted. The mission returned 110.5 kg (243.6 lb) of samples from the Moon. Three moon walks were performed.

The mission was launched on 7 December 1972 by a Saturn V rocket from LC 39A launch pad from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. The Command Module was called America and the Lunar Module was called Challenger.

Ronald B. Evans remained in lunar orbit in the Command Module while the other two crew members landed on the moon. The Lunar Module landed on the moon on December 11, 1972 at Taurus-Littrow. The landing site was on the south-eastern rim of the Mare Serenitatis, in the south-western Montes Taurus.

Schmitt and Cernan collected a record 109 kg (240 pounds) of rocks during three Moonwalks. The crew travelled for 34 km (21 miles) through the Taurus-Littrow valley in their lunar rover, discovered orange-colored soil and left the most comprehensive set of instruments in the ALSEP on the lunar surface. Eugene Cernan was the last man to walk on the moon.

The splashdown point was 350 nautical miles (650 km – 17° 52′ S, 166° 7′ W) south east of the Samoan Islands and 6.5 km (4 miles) from the recovery ship USS Ticonderoga. Apollo 17 landed approximately 640 meters from its target point.

Did you know?

* 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.

* The Command Module capsule ‘America’ is currently on display at Space Center Houston in Houston, Texas.

* Apollo 17 was the last crewed NASA mission to land on the moon in the 20th century. The next crewed NASA mission to land on the Moon will happen well beyond 2018 using the Crew Exploration Vehicle (the sooner, the better).


Apollo 17: The NASA Mission Reports Vol 1: Apogee Books Space Series 29

Apollo 17 Links


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