Picture of Apollo 17 lunar roving vehicle
Astronauts Eugene Cernan, who had flown on Apollo 10, and Harold Schmitt, a professional geologist, were the last humans to walk on the Moon, in the final mission of the Apollo space program. Together with Ronald Evans, they lifted off on Dec. 7, 1972 aboard Apollo 17.
The astronauts touched down in the Taurus-Littrow vally which contained both older and newer rocks. Similar to the previous two Apollo missions, this one involved setting up an experiments station and exploration using the Lunar Roving Vehicle. Cernan and Schmitt spent three days on the Moon, covering over 20 miles of lunar terrain, and returned more than 240 pounds of material.
Apollo 17 marked the end of the most successful space program in human history. Although NASA had already begun developing plans for a lunar base, such a project would require enormous tax dollar funding and political support. Unfortunately, Americans were confident that they had won the space race with the Soviet Union and no longer viewed lunar exploration as a priority. The drastic reduction of NASA's budget made such an ambitious mission impossible.
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