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Apollo 17

Apollo 17 Patch

Launched: 7 December 1972 UT 05:33:00 (12:33:00 a.m. EST)
Landed on Moon: 11 December 1972 UT 19:54:57 (02:54:57 p.m. EST)
Landing Site: Taurus-Littrow (20.19 N, 30.77 E)
Returned to Earth: 19 December 1972 UT 19:24:59 (02:24:59 p.m. EST)


Apollo 17

Eugene A. Cernan, commander
Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot
Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot

Apollo 17 Crew

Apollo 17 was the sixth and last Apollo mission in which humans walked on the lunar surface. On 11 December 1972 two astronauts (Commander Eugene A. Cernan and LM pilot Harrison H. Schmitt, the first scientist on the Moon) landed in the Taurus-Littrow region of the Moon in the Lunar Module (LM) while the Command and Service Module (CSM) (with CM pilot Ronald E. Evans) continued in lunar orbit. During their stay on the Moon, the astronauts set up scientific experiments, took photographs, and collected lunar samples. The LM took off from the Moon on 14 December and the astronauts returned to Earth on 19 December.

Mission Profile

Apollo 17 lifted off at 05:33:00 UT (12:33:00 a.m. EST) on 7 December 1972 after a 2 hour, 40 minute delay due to a malfunction of a launch sequencer. Launch was on Saturn V SA-512 from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center and was the first nighttime launch of an Apollo. The spacecraft began Earth parking orbit at 05:44:53 UT and translunar injection took place at 08:45:37 UT. The CSM separated from the S-IVB at 09:15:29 UT and CSM-LM docking took place at 09:29:45 UT. The S-IVB was released at 10:18 UT into a lunar impact trajectory. (It impacted the lunar surface on 10 December at 20:32:42.3 UT at 4.21 S, 12.31 W with a velocity of 2.55 km/s at a 55 degree angle from the horizontal.) A single mid-course correction requiring a 1.6 second burn of the Service Propulsion System (SPS) was made at 17:03:00 UT on 8 December. On December 10 at 15:05:40 UT the SIM bay door was jettisoned and a 398 second burn of the SPS was initiated at 19:47:23 UT to insert Apollo 17 into lunar orbit. Approximately 4 hours 20 minutes later another maneuver lowered the orbit to a perilune of 28 km. At 14:35 UT on 11 December Cernan and Schmitt entered the LM.

The LM separated from the CSM at 17:20:56 UT on 11 December 1972 and reduced its orbit to 11.5 km perilune at 18:55:42 UT. The descent burn took place at 19:43 UT and the LM landed at 19:54:57 UT on the southeastern rim of Mare Serenitatis in a valley at Taurus-Littrow, at 20.2 N, 30.8 E. Cernan and Schmitt made three moonwalk extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) totaling 22 hours, 4 minutes. During this time they covered 30 km using the Lunar Roving Vehicle, collected 110.5 kg of lunar samples, took photographs, and set up the ALSEP and performed other scientific experiments. Evans performed experiments from orbit in the CSM during this time.

The LM lifted off from the Moon at 22:54:37 UT on 14 December after 75 hours on the lunar surface. After the LM docked with the CSM at 01:10:15 UT on 15 December the lunar samples and other equipment were transferred from the LM and the LM was jettisoned at 04:51:31 UT. The LM impacted the Moon at 06:50:20.8 UT at 19.96 N, 30.50 E, approximately 15 km from the Apollo 17 landing site, with an estimated impact velocity of 1.67 km/s at an angle ~4.9 degrees from horizontal. After another 1 1/2 days in lunar orbit, transearth injection took place at 23:35:09 UT on 16 December. On 17 December at 20:27 UT Evans began a cislunar spacewalk EVA consisting of three trips to the SM SIM bay to collect camera and lunar sounder film over a period of 67 minutes. The CM and SM separated at 18:56:49 UT on 19 December. Apollo 17 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on 19 December 1972 at 19:24:59 UT (2:24:59 p.m. EST) after a mission elapsed time of 301 hrs, 51 mins, 59 secs. The splashdown point was 17 deg 53 min S, 166 deg 7 min W, 350 nautical miles SE of the Samoan Islands and 6.5 km (4 mi) from the recovery ship USS Ticonderoga.

Performance of the spacecraft, the third of the Apollo J-series missions, was excellent for all aspects of the mission. The primary mission goals of investigating the lunar surface and environment in the Taurus-Littrow region, emplacing and activating surface experiments, performing experiments in lunar orbit, obtaining and returning lunar surface samples, and enhancing the capability for future astronaut lunar exploration were achieved. Cernan, 38, was a Navy captain with two previous spaceflights (Gemini 9, Apollo 10), Evans, 39, was a Navy commander making his first spaceflight, and Schmitt, 37, was a civilian also making his first spaceflight. The backup crew for this mission was John Young, Stuart Roosa, and Charles Duke. The Apollo 17 command module capsule "America" is on display at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

 

Credit NASA