Thursday, April 6, 2006

Apollo 17

The internet encyclopedia Wikipedia has, on its home page today, a splendid photograph of Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo moonships, part of which is reproduced above. Go to Wikipedia and get the whole thing, it's a beautiful photograph and makes an excellent computer wallpaper.
Apollo 17, commanded by Eugene Cernan (Capt., USN), left Cape Kennedy spaceport on 7 December 1972. Harrison Schmitt was the lunar module pilot, and Ron Evans was the command module pilot. The ascent stage of Lunar Module Challenger left the Moon the night of 14/15 December 1972, taking with it the last humans, so far, to visit that place.
Like Apollo 11's Lunar Module, Eagle, before it, Challenger's descent stage has a plaque, with a message from Earth for later visitors. The plaque, bearing the signatures of Cernan, Evans and Schmitt, and that of President Richard Nixon, reads: "Here Man completed his first explorations of the moon. December 1972 AD. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind." Someday, hopefully sooner rather than later, it will return to Earth, no doubt to an honored place in the Smithsonian Institution.
Meanwhile, we are left with pictures, and memories of a time when Americans took the flag to the stars.

1 comment:

Candidly Caroline said...

That really is a *fantastic* picture.