Apollo 17, The Last Mission to the Moon in Real Time

For the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission, NASA has published an amazing website: “Apollo 17 in Real-time. The Last Mission to the Moon – A real-time journey through the Apollo 17 mission”. You can see the events in real-time either joining at 1 minute to the launch, or in-progress, 45 years ago to the second.

On the site apollo17.org, you can access over 300 hours of audio, over 22 hours of video, over 4,200 photos and relive every moment as it occurred in 1972.

Apollo 17

Apollo 17 Extravehicular Activity
On December 13, 1972, scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt (born July 3, 1935) is photographed standing next to a huge, split lunar boulder during the third Apollo 17 extravehicular activity (EVA) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), which transported Schmitt and Eugene A. Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017) to this extravehicular station from their Lunar Module (LM), is seen in the background. The mosaic is made from two frames from Apollo 17 Hasselblad magazine 140. The two frames were photographed by Cernan. Photo: NASA

Apollo 17 was the eleventh and the last manned space mission in the NASA Apollo programme. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission. The mission was launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972, and concluded on December 19.

Apollo 17 is also last time humans traveled beyond low Earth orbit. The mission broke several records: the longest moon landing, longest total extravehicular activities (moonwalks), largest lunar sample, and longest time in lunar orbit.

Scientific objectives of the Apollo 17 mission included, geological surveying and sampling of materials and surface features in a preselected area of the Taurus-Littrow region; deploying and activating surface experiments; and conducting in-flight experiments and photographic tasks during lunar orbit and transearth coast. These objectives included deployed experiments, such as the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, or ALSEP, with a heat flow experiment; lunar seismic profiling, or LSP; lunar surface gravimeter, or LSG; lunar atmospheric composition experiment, or LACE; and lunar ejecta and meteorites, or LEAM. The mission also included lunar sampling and lunar orbital experiments. Biomedical experiments included the Biostack II experiment and the BIOCORE experiment.

The Blue Marble
The Blue Marble – Earth as seen by Apollo 17 in 1972. NASA/Apollo 17 crew; taken by either Harrison Schmitt or Ron Evans.
On December 7, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 spacecraft took a photo of Earth from the space, at a distance about 45,000 kilometers (28,000 miles). This image, with the official NASA designation AS17-148-22727, became known as “The Blue Marble”.
In fact, it was not the first clear image of Earth taken from the space – similar photos had already been taken as early as 1967. But, the 1970s were the scene of a big surge in environmental activism. For example, on April 22, 1970, the first “Earth Day” organized by Gaylord Nelson, former senator of Wisconsin, and Denis Hayes, Harvard graduate student. Millions of people gather in the United States for the event.
So, in today’s terms, image AS17-148-22727 went “viral” and became a symbol of the environmental movement, as a depiction of Earth’s frailty, vulnerability, and isolation amid the vast expanse of space. According to the NASA archivist Mike Gentry, it is among the most widely distributed images in human history.
Space race - Moonwalk - Apollo 17 Mission image
Moonwalk, December 13, 1972. View of Station Lunar Module, Commander Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, USA Flag, and Lunar Roving Vehicle. The photo was taken during the third Extravehicular Activity (EVA 3) of the Apollo 17 mission. Original film magazine was labeled E film type was SO-368 Color Exterior, CEX, Ektachrome MS, color reversal 60mm lens with a sun elevation of 36 degrees. Image source: archive.org (by NASA)

Apollo 17 Crew

Commander: Eugene A. Cernan, Third and last spaceflight
Command Module Pilot: Ronald E. Evans, Only spaceflight
Lunar Module Pilot: Harrison H. Schmitt, Only spaceflight

Apollo 17 crew
The prime crew for the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission are: Commander, Eugene A. Cernan (March 14, 1934 – January 16, 2017) (seated), Command Module pilot Ronald E. Evans (November 10, 1933 – April 7, 1990) (standing on right), and Lunar Module pilot, Harrison H. Schmitt (born July 3, 1935). They are photographed with a Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) trainer. Cernan and Schmitt will use an LRV during their exploration of the Taurus-Littrow landing site. The Apollo 17 Saturn V Moon rocket is in the background. This picture was taken at Pad A, Launch Complex 39, Kennedy Space Center (KSC), Florida. Image: wikipedia
Apollo 17 Official Emblem
Official emblem of the Apollo 17 lunar landing mission. Image: NASA


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