December 7, 1972 – launch of Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh manned space mission in the Apollo program, launching on December 7, 1972. It was the only night launch and the final lunar landing mission of NASA. The next lunar mission for NASA is planned for around 2020.
According to NASA’s official press kit for Apollo 17, it had the following mission-objectives:
“The three basic objectives of Apollo 17 are to explore and sample the materials and surface features at Taurus-Littrow, to set up and activate experiments on the lunar surface for long-term relay of data, and to conduct inflight experiments and photographic tasks.” [p. 24]
“One of the last two men to set foot on the Moon was also the first scientist-astronaut, geologist Harrison Schmitt. While Evans circled in America, Schmitt and Cernan collected a record 109 kg (240 pounds) of rocks during three Moonwalks. The crew roamed for 34 km (21 miles) through the Taurus-Littrow valley in their rover, discovered orange-colored soil, and left the most comprehensive set of instruments in the ALSEP on the lunar surface. Their mission was the last in the Apollo lunar program.”