Apollo 17 was the eleventh mission overall and the final mission of NASA’s Apollo program.
For it, Commander Eugene Cernan and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt landed on the Moon, while Ronald Evans remained in lunar orbit in the Command and Service Module.
During their stay at the Taurus-Littrow landing site, they set up experiments and explored the surface for three days before returning to the command module for their journey back to Earth.
Apollo 17 showed us that humanity is capable of incredible feats when we come together toward a common goal.
It also stands as an enduring symbol of exploration, cooperation, and scientific discovery.
Apollo 17 Facts for Kids
- Apollo 17 was the final manned mission to the Moon.
- It launched on December 7, 1972.
- The crew consisted of Commander Eugene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, and Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans.
- The mission lasted just over 12 days.
- Apollo 17 was the first mission to include a scientist, geologist Harrison Schmitt, as a crew member.
- The mission set several records, including the longest lunar landing flight and the longest time spent on the Moon.
Project Apollo was one of the most ambitious missions of the twentieth century. Its goal was to establish technology to meet other national interests in space, increase prominence for the United States, carry out a program of scientific exploration of the Moon and develop the human capacity to work in the lunar environment.
The mission was made possible by an extremely successful three-part spacecraft system:
- The Command Module (CM)
- Service Module (SM)
- Lunar Module (LM)
It was designed with functions that allowed astronauts to stay in a low earth orbit or go further out into space. Together, these components enabled humans, for the first time ever, to journey beyond our planet’s atmosphere and visit its nearest neighbor -the Moon.
On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy started an incredible journey of exploration and discovery when he committed America to landing astronauts on the Moon by 1970.
It included 12 Apollo space missions and two test flights. Five were tasked with Earth and Lunar Orbital Missions: Apollo 1, 7, 8, 9, and 10. And seven were for Lunar Landing Missions: 11 to 17.
Each mission had a unique team of courageous astronauts onboard for what was a historic achievement in the human exploration of space.
How did Apollo prepare for their mission?
Upon launching, Apollo completed many test flights to ensure success upon reaching their final destination.
Before they go on a mission, they practice in special places on Earth that are like space. They learn how to be away from home for a long time and how to move around in a spacecraft when there is no gravity.
They also practice how to get on and off other spacecraft and how to work together as a team even when they can’t talk to people on Earth.
All of this practice helps them be ready for their big adventure in space, where they get to explore parts of the universe that no one has ever been to before
What were some of Apollo’s technical achievements?
Project Apollo was a program that developed special technologies to help people travel through space. Some of the things they made were engines that were really powerful and could help the spacecraft turn and move around in space.
They also made computers that could help the spacecraft stay on track and make quick adjustments to its flight. They built the spacecraft to be able to handle very hot and cold temperatures, and they made a special part of the spacecraft that was safe for people to use when they landed back on Earth.
They also used a special type of fuel that could start very quickly, which was helpful for making quick moves in space. All of these technologies helped people explore space and go places that they couldn’t go before.
From December 11, 1972, to the 14th, three astronauts ventured to the Taurus-Littrow site on the southeastern rim of Mare Serenitatis (the Sea of Serenity).
Setting out with two primary goals — collecting samples from highland regions and investigating possibilities of a geologically recent, explosive volcano — made Commander Eugene Cernan, Pilot Harrison Schmitt, and Ronald Evans soar beyond expectations.
They powered their lunar module “Challenger” within 650 feet (200 meters) of their targeted landing site for an incredible entrance.
Exploration was in full swing as they wandered and gathered samples from the valley floor between massive units of the southwestern Taurus Mountains south of Littrow Crater while Evans circled overhead in the command module, “America.”
With precision and accuracy, they marked their presence on such a foreign landscape.
The mission rewrote history when Schmitt became the first scientist to explore this celestial body firsthand without relying on robotic tools or probes.
His years spent earthbound studying geology were given flight during this mission, allowing him to make numerous discoveries that even today bring us closer to our celestial neighbor’s secrets
Though Apollo 17 will always remain at its peak in mankind’s timeline of exploration into space, it is yet another example of our drive to boldly venture forward into unknown territories with hopes that we could uncover something new and exciting about ourselves or those places we discover – a spectator magnet for both people here on Earth and astronomers gazing up past the stars searching for knowledge among galaxies far away.
The objectives of the Apollo 17 mission
Believing in the power of exploration, Apollo 17 set off on the ultimate mission to the Moon. As a J-type mission, their goal was clear: continue the investigation and collect more samples.
The team arrived at Taurus-Littrow, a place where several previous missions gathered material, thanks to its highlands and valley features.
From geological surveying and sample collection to deploying surface experiments and underwater activations, they did it all. In addition to that, they photographed the lunar orbit during the transearth coast while conducting some interesting experiments, like heat flow, seismic profiling, and more.
Ultimately these guys had one impressive task list, but with absolute drive and determination, they achieved it – leaving a legacy for others to follow.