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Friday, December 07, 2012

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

Apollo 17 was NASA's 6th and final Mission to send a team of Astronauts to Explore the Moon's surface for three days. Take a ride with the Astronauts as they take the Lunar Rover out for a spin, off-roading one final time to explore the Mystery and Wonder of the Moons surface.

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
The BBC Discovery program recently recorded an 18-minute radio interview entitled "Last Man, First Scientist on the Moon" with Schmitt in which he states private firms could make a return on the huge investment needed to set up extra-terrestrial mining operations by garnering a new source of fuel called helium-3.

"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

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