Apollo 17 was the final human mission of the Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on 7 December 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the most recent manned Moon landing and the most recent manned flight beyond low Earth orbit.
"It is tremendously disappointing that I am here 40 years later and still hold that title or have that yoke on my shoulders," retired Apollo 17 astronaut Eugene Cernan recently told VOA. "A half century ago, we went 250,000 miles, cracked the door open, and never walked through it into the future. The future is still out there."
"To say that I thought it would be 40 years, or what is really going to turn out to be 50 or 60 years before Americans are back on the moon, I would not have guessed that at all," fellow Apollo 17 astronaut/moonwalker Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to walk the surface of the moon, said.
"When you're in a deep valley with as bright a sun as you can imagine illuminating the slopes, against a blacker than black sky," Schmitt says, "and you look up in the sky at your home world, you know you're someplace different."
|Jack Schmitt on the Moon in 1972|
"Government is too inefficient to make the costs come down where it would be economic. It will be an entrepreneurial effort," he told the BBC.