I was born just in time to say that I am a child of the Apollo era (except for arriving too late for Apollo 11, but I really don’t mind as it beats the alternative). Among my very early memories are those of the tail end of the program, and ultimately the very end with Apollo 17 in 1972 (1)Sure there was Apollo-Soyuz but it was more of a coda than an end.
That mission was commanded by Eugene Cernan, Captain, USN. Cernan was pilot of Gemini 9, Lunar Module pilot of Apollo X (which got him to within 47,000 feet of the lunar surface), and commander of Apollo 17, which closed the remaining 47,000 feet. I found this clip on YouTube which summarized Cernan’s last mission:
Until Apollo 17, every NASA astronaut was a current or former military test pilot. But this final mission included NASA’s first scientist-astronaut, Harrison “Jack” Schmidtt, a geologist. I love the genuine excitement in Schmidtt and Cernan’s voices as they find the orange rocks they were hoping to find in the Taurus–Littrow valley.
“We leave as we came, and, God willing, we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.” — Cernan’s closing words on leaving the moon at the end of Apollo 17
Eugene Cernan was the last man to ever walk on the Moon; the last human being to ever walk on another world. And now he has left this world one final time.
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