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Our Last Manned Moon Mission Splashed Down 40 Years Ago Today

Illustration for article titled Our Last Manned Moon Mission Splashed Down 40 Years Ago Today

Contrary to the cries of conspiracy theorists, there was once a time when man traveled to the moon, and on this day in 1972, we made one last splashdown in the Pacific Ocean before cutting ties. Since then, mankind hasn't traveled more than 400 miles above the Earth's surface (the moon lies almost 240,000 miles above).


The three men aboard Apollo 17—Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans, and Harrison H. Schmitt—only called the moon their home for a little over three days, but their moonwalks were the longest ever carried out by an Apollo crew. They even carried home a record haul in moon rock souvenirs: 257 pounds-worth.


Our space dreams are, of course, not completely dashed; the Mars rover currently takes the spotlight, but man hasn't set foot on a celestial surface in quite some time. Hopefully (and if Newt Gingrich has his way) Apollo 17 won't have been the last. [Forbes]

Image: NASA's Human Spaceflight Gallery

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Chip Skylark of Space

Haven't been more than 400 miles up since then? I know that Gemini went up to 1200 miles, but I don't think we've gone more then 250 miles up since Apollo, and I think it all sucks.

I wish that Nixon hadn't cancelled the last 3 lunar landing missions, and the whole follow up missions (Apollo Applications Program or Apollo Extension Series) with the longer missions (up to 200 days) would have been great, and who the hell knows what we would have found.

The combo of shutting down Apollo and how much time and money the shuttle actually cost really destroyed the exploration of space after 1972. The Skylab, which used up the last of the Saturns was a last gasp instead a new field of endeavor.