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Apollo 17 - December 14th, 1972

“As we leave the moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came, and God willing we shall return. With peace and hope for all mankind”

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(NASA Photo AS-140-21391 taken by Harrison H. Schmitt)

It's hard to believe it happened 40 years ago today (God I'm getting old).  The last man to step foot on the moon was Eugene Cernan.  He was there (with the Lunar Module "Challenger") for 3 days with geologist Harrison Schmitt - who was the first pure scientist NASA had ever sent into space. Their crew also had Astronaut Ronald Evans who stayed above on the Command Module "America".

This year also marked the death of the first man to walk on the moon, Neil Armstrong.

After their twelve-day mission, the Apollo program was ended and no human has gone back.

Originally posted to Anna M on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 05:29 AM PST.

Also republished by Astro Kos.

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Comment Preferences

  •  I watched all of those missions. (6+ / 0-)

    Exciting times. Thanks for posting this.

    I will republish to Astro Kos.


    An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. ~ Ben Franklin

    by jim in IA on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 05:46:14 AM PST

    •  I remember watching the moon landings (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      JamesGG, BOHICA, jim in IA, radarlady

      By 1972 most of America had lost interest.  That was my "hippie" year where I ran away from home briefly (I was in high school) with the intention of going to California and joining a commune - or something.  Watching the moon flights kept me "grounded".  Science and dreaming about the future was fun back then, except we had a lot of worries about a nuclear war with the Soviets.

    •  I was born 7 years too late... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      BOHICA, jim in IA, radarlady, Anna M

      ...to see anyone walk on the moon.

      But I was really into space exploration as a kid, and when I reached the age when I understood what the Space Shuttle was doing I watched every Shuttle launch—and Challenger is etched permanently into my mind. (One of the few positive things Reagan ever did was giving that speech from the Oval Office on the night of the tragedy.)

      Prior to Challenger, I'd dreamed of becoming an astronaut; after that, I was a bit less sanguine about it. (In retrospect, that probably worked out for the better, as I would have been too tall to get into the space program anyway... to say nothing of manned exploration winding down in the last few years just as I reached the age where I could have become an astronaut.)

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:20:09 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  That is a sad fact. (6+ / 0-)

    It's been 40 years since a human being last set foot on any rock that wasn't the earth.

    The voyage to the moon should have inaugurated a new Age of Discovery... but because of the small-mindedness of Nixon and those who followed him, as well as a bunch of geopolitical bullhockey, we took a step back and stalled out at LEO.

    "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

    by JamesGG on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:15:30 AM PST

    •  Not just Nixon (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pete Cortez, Anna M, BlackSheep1

      although the damage he did cannot be underestimated.  I blame all of us, our collective lack of imagination.  It is evident everywhere.

      •  not lack of imagination; lack of WILL, to tell the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anna M

        "we can't afford it" crowd how full of bullshit they are.
        Then and now and next year.

        LBJ, Lady Bird, Anne Richards, Barbara Jordan, Sully Sullenberger, Ike, Drew Brees, Molly Ivins --Texas is no Bush league! -7.50,-5.59

        by BlackSheep1 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 03:03:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Not easy to imagine. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Anna M

        Check out L-2 (subscription required) on nasaspaceflight.com sometime.  There's no shortage of imagination from the engineers applied to the problem of getting to and doing things in space.  But the near and medium term business case is still hard to make.  Aside from space "tourism" (from private adventurers to prestige space R&D projects on a budget), re-tanking propellant, and telesense/telecom, what is there?  Will demand grow to meet potentially dramatic increases in launch capacity, or is the market saturated?

        Sure, we're all to blame.  But this game isn't easy.

    •  Wouldn't say small mindedness. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M

      Americans never did come together on a plan for what to do other than place a handful of men on the moon.  The result was an architecture--that while a great learning experience--was technically and fiscally incapable of developing greater cislunar opportunity.  The RLV instinct behind the space shuttle was correct, and there was (and still is) a huge learning curve in getting to reliable, genuinely reusable spacelift, but unfortunately successive Administrations and Congresses acceded to a costly architecture that had only one virtue: it bought money to a lot of districts.

  •  Good ol' Harrison Schmitt (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Anna M, BOHICA

    Must have left his climate analysis neurons behind to go with his footprints.

  •  From another "Moonie" (5+ / 0-)
    "When you're finally up on the moon, looking back at the earth, all these differences and nationalistic traits are pretty well going to blend and you're going to get the concept that maybe this is really one world and why the hell can't we learn to live together like decent people."  
    Frank Borman  

    White-collar conservatives flashing down the street, pointing their plastic finger at me..

    by BOHICA on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:21:39 AM PST

    •  Or, as another wise man once put it: (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M, BOHICA


      Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

      The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

      Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

      The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

      It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

      "When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist." --Dom Helder Camara, archbishop of Recife

      by JamesGG on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:24:18 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  and now we get the (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pete Cortez, Anna M, BlackSheep1

    "gosh it's too hard and too expensive and too dangerous so lets just send probes," from large segments of our side, and the other side is too stupid and drooling to even comprehend space.

    Lame.

    pseudoscience can kill

    by terrypinder on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 06:59:22 AM PST

    •  Easy and hard to defend space. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Anna M

      Easy in that it's a matter of simple arithmetic to show that there's a vast amount of wealth waiting to be tapped in space.  Vast as in makes the entire global economy look like a drop of water in the ocean.

      On the other hand, it's hard to argue how to tap into it over a time scale that would matter to anyone.  When you're looking at an 8 km/s climb just to get to LEO, and 3 km/s on top of that to get anywhere interesting, and almost all human economic activity takes place within with a delta-v range of on few hundred meters per second from the surface, you come up with a far small less of obvious and  immediate benefits of space development.

      So now the focus is on cutting the cost to access space.  We're approaching a $5000/kg that's a considerable improvement over the EELV and Arienne medium to medium-heavy lift market, but what we really want is a stable of reusable launch vehicles.  Those potentially drop the cost to under an order of magnitude of and down to $100/kg.  Still, it's not obvious how the market would respond to such a rapid drop in launch costs.  Demand would have to increase by the same factor in order to break even.  But can we actually find firms to spend money to put stuff up in space to justify the flight rates?

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