Apollo to the Moon

Apollo 17

The Apollo 17 lunar mission, the last manned mission to the Moon, occurred from December 11-14, 1972.

Astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt performed three separate Extravehicular Activities (EVAs) in the Taurus Mountain-Littrow Crater region of Mare Serenitatis. During the three EVAs, totaling a record 22 hours 6 minutes, Cernan and Schmitt collected 112 kilograms (247 pounds) of material for return to Earth. They also drove a lunar roving vehicle approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles).

NASA Apollo Mission Control
NASA Apollo Mission Control

Flight Director Eugene Krantz oversaw the Apollo program's central nervous system: Mission Control in Houston. His professionalism and expertise were instrumental in the success of the lunar missions. Here Krantz (center) discusses the launch of Apollo 17—the last of the Moon missions—with colleagues.

Experimentation


Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package (ALSEP)
The Apollo 17 ALSEP was packed on two subpallets. It consisted of five experiments: a Heat Flow Experiment; an Ejecta and meteorites Experiment; a Seismic Profiling Experiment; an Atmospheric Composition Experiment; and a Surface Gravimeter.

To learn more about ALSEP and other experiments done on the moon, visit the section on Scientific Experiments.

Apollo ALSEP Subpackage 1
Apollo ALSEP Subpackage 1

LRV Fender Repair

The Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) allowed astronauts to go further away from the Lunar Module during their limited extravehicular activity time on the moon. The vehicle was first used on Apollo 15, and then again on missions 16 and 17.

Just after unloading the LRV from the Lunar Module, Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan accidentally knocked off the right-rear fender extension. He taped it back on but it fell off later, and the wheel kicked a plume of fine lunar dust over the rover and its occupants. At the suggestion of technicians on Earth, Cernan and lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt taped together several plastic-coated map sheets to make a replacement fender extension. Shown here are a spare wheel and fender (bottom), a fender extension brought back from Apollo 17 (middle), as well as the replacement for the extension made of map sheets and tape on the Moon (top).

Schmitt Lunar Roving Vehicle

Scientist-astronaut Harrison H. Schmitt is photographed seated in the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). He drove the vehicle approximately 35 kilometers (22 miles) while on the Moon for the Apollo 17 mission.


Lunar Roving Vehicle Wheel, Fender
Shown here are a spare wheel and fender (bottom), a fender extension (middle), and the replacement for the extension made of map sheets and tape on the Moon (top) because the original LRV (Lunar Roving Vehicle) extension failed.

Identifying Space Suits


Cernan's Spacesuit, Apollo 17
Cernan's Spacesuit, Apollo 17

This is the space suit worn by Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan during the Apollo 17 mission. Cernan was the last man to leave the Moon. The suit is complete except for the portable life-support system, which was left on the Moon to conserve weight.

This suit is a more advanced version of the type worn by Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin. It contains a layer of aluminized, gridded Kapton film for additional protection. The red stripes identify Cernan as the mission commander. This identification system was first used during the Apollo 13 mission.

"Billy Pugh" Rescue Net


All of the Apollo missions ended with splashdown in the ocean and recovery by specially trained teams from the U.S. Navy. Astronauts were lifted into hovering Navy helicopters by means of rescue nets attached to electric powered hoists.

Billy Pugh Rescue Net
Billy Pugh Rescue Net
Apollo Astronaut Evans in Rescue Net
Apollo Astronaut Evans in Rescue Net

Apollo 17 command module pilot Ronald E. Evans was hoisted in a "Billy Pugh" rescue net from the command module to the rescue helicopter following Apollo 17's Pacific splashdown on December 19, 1972. The recovery ship, U.S.S. Ticonderoga, awaits the arrival of the astronauts. Apollo 17 landed 648 kilometers (420 miles) Southeast of American Samoa.

Achievements

  • Longest Apollo mission - 301 hours 52 minutes
  • Longest single extravehicular activity (EVA) time on surface - 7 ½ hours
  • Longest total EVA time on surface - 22 hours
  • Greatest Lunar Rover Vehicle distance on one EVA - 19 kilometers (14 miles)
  • Greatest Lunar Rover Vehicle total distance traveled - 35 kilometers (25 miles)
  • First geologist astronaut on lunar surface - Harrison H. Schmitt
  • Largest number of lunar samples returned to Earth - 117 kilograms (257 pounds)