Friday, December 14, 2012

Goodnight Moon

Forty years ago today the last human visit to the Moon ended when the Apollo 17 astronauts lifted off from the Taurus-Littow Valley.  No humans have gone higher than low-Earth orbit since.  I would have been very surprised if you told me in 1972 that is what would happen.

The Pilot of the Lunar Entry Module (L.E.M.) was Harrison Schmitt, who later became a United States Senator from New Mexico.  With him was Mission Commander Eugene Cernan.  Piloting the Command Module in its Moon orbit was Ron Evans.

Apollo 17 was the only nighttime launch for the program and it was spectacular.  You can watch it in this video (go to the 2:50 mark).  The Saturn V rocket was gigantic, standing twice as tall as the Space Shuttle.  Think of it as launching a 30 story building.

This is the liftoff from the moon on December 17, 1972.

Eugene Cernan on the Moon (or perhaps on the top-secret set in New Mexico)

The Apollo 17 Lunar Rover remains on the moon.

And here's one of the few songs written about the Apollo program; For Michael Collins, Jeffrey & Me by Jethro Tull Michael Collins was the Command Module pilot left behind when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin began their descent and the song is from his perspective.

I'm with you L.E.M 
Though it's a shame that it had to be you 
The mother ship is just a blip 
From your trip made for two
I'm with you boys

So please employ just a little extra care 
It's on my mind I'm left behind
When I should have been there
Walking with you

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