By Tom Dare
FASCTINATING FOOTAGE and a series of incredible images from the last Apollo mission have resurfaced today, on the 45th anniversary of mankind taking its last footsteps on the surface of the moon.
Footage from the Apollo 17 mission to the moon, launched on December 7th 1972, shows astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt singing as they bounced over the surface of the moon following their landing on December 11.
Further video from the mission shows the two men stood either side of an American flag shortly before departing the lunar surface on December 14, with another shot capturing the earth from approximately 384,400 kilometres away. The clip ends with the lunar module taking off from the surface of the moon while a remote control camera films it.
Apollo 17 was the last of the Apollo missions commissioned by the United States, and remains the last time mankind visited the surface of the moon. Created in 1961 under President John F Kennedy the Apollo programme successfully landed six missions on the moon before returning them safely to earth, during which time twelve men walked on the moon.
The final Apollo mission consisted of three astronauts. These were Commander Eugene Cernan, who was making his third spaceflight, as well as Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt and Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, for each of whom Apollo 17 became their only ever spaceflight.
During their flight the crew of Apollo 17 took one of the most iconic images of the earth ever captured, as well as breaking several records on the way. These included the longest lunar landing flight (301 hours, 51 minutes); longest lunar surface extravehicular activities (22 hours, 6 minutes); largest lunar sample return (nearly 249 pounds); and longest time in lunar orbit (147 hours, 48 minutes).
When leaving the surface of the moon for what would prove to be the final time in at least 45 years, Cernan remarked on his wish that man would soon return to explore its surface once more:
“I’m on the surface; and, as I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come – but we believe not too long into the future – I’d like to just [say] what I believe history will record,” he said.
“That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind.”