LUNAR MISSIONS AFTER APOLLO 11After Apollo 11, NASA sent six more flights to the Moon-Apollo missions 12 through 17. Only Apollo 13 failed to make a lunar landing-an accident en route to the Moon forced the crew to abandon the mission and return to Earth after reaching lunar orbit. The last flight, Apollo 17, occurred in December 1972.
Over these more than three years, the missions after Apollo 11 conducted increasingly sophisticated studies of the Moon, yielding new scientific insights into the evolution of our celestial neighbor. Each mission explored new areas of the lunar surface and left behind nuclear-powered scientific instruments that continued to send data back to Earth years after the last astronaut left the Moon. And beginning with Apollo 15, astronauts conducted their explorations with the aid of a Moon car--a Lunar Roving Vehicle--that allowed them to travel and work miles away from their Lunar Module.
But despite these remarkable exploits of discovery and the drama of Apollo 13's near-disaster the nation gradually lost interest in a program of lunar exploration. With Apollo 11, we had fulfilled President Kennedy's 1961 challenge and bested the Soviet Union in achieving a historic feat of exploration. By the mid-1970s the marvels of Apollo--the Saturn V rockets and the spacecraft--were set aside and the national expertise that made them possible was redirected. A successful space program now had to find a new purpose in a new era.
List of Artifacts in the Gallery
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