Apollo Missions NASA / History

The last Apollo mission

Apollo 17
The final trip to the Moon

As of 2019, the last time anyone set foot on the Moon was during the Apollo 17 mission

A Saturn V rocket launched from Kennedy Space Center on December 7, 1972, with astronauts Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans, and Harrison Schmitt onboard

The mission’s aims were to explore geological material on the Taurus-Littrow lunar highlands and to investigate volcanic activity

Schmitt and Cernan traveled great distances on the Moon by using the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV), until, at the end of the first moonwalk, something went wrong

Part of the back right fender tore off the vehicle, pulled away by a hammer in Cernan’s pocket

Riding without the fender extension caused massive “rooster tails”, as Schmitt and Cernan called them, spreading lunar dust all over their instruments and suits. Dirt thrown up by the wheels in low gravity goes much farther than it would on Earth.

Lunar dust could cause instruments to overheat and fail. While the astronauts slept, Mission Control devised a replacement fender extension using four maps of the Moon, duct tape, and a clamp.

Luckily, the new fender extension worked, providing adequate protection for the rover’s wheel

Schmitt drove the rover approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) while on the Moon for the Apollo 17 mission

Eugene Cernan was the last Apollo astronaut to walk on the Moon. As of 2019, no other human being has attempted to follow in his footsteps.