NASA: Who were the last astronauts to visit the surface of the Moon?

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The Artemis Program POT seeks to take the first woman and the next man to the Moon: possibly this will be achieved by 2025. This week work was carried out on the launch of the Artemis I Mission, reaching the orbit of our satellite with three mannequins to assess how radiation affects astronauts.

Until now, there are twelve people, all men, who have walked on the Moon, the first being Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. Although they have traveled 24 in total, adding to those who remain in the modules, as was the case of Michael Collins in 1969.

But, who were the last to walk on the surface of the Moon? How was your journey and when did it happen?

Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt they are the last astronauts to walk on the surface of our natural satellite, in 1972, as part of the Apollo 17 mission. I guide them Ron Evans, as command module pilot.

This was his story.

Apollo 17, NASA’s last expedition to the Moon

Before Cernan and Schmitt, ten people walked on the Moon. These were:

  1. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin in 1969 (Apollo 11).
  2. Charles Conrad and Alan Bean in 1969 (Apollo 12).
  3. Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell in 1971 (Apollo 14).
  4. David Scott and James Irwin in 1971 (Apollo 15).
  5. John Young and Charles Duke in 1972 (Apollo 16).

Eugene Andrew Cernan was a naval aviator and electrical engineer, as well as a fighter pilot, born in Chicago in 1934. In 1966 he traveled to space as a Gemini 9A pilot; and to the Moon as pilot of the lunar module of Apollo 10.

Already for Apollo 17 he was appointed commander, stepping on the surface of the natural satellite together with Schmitt.

From left to right, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, Eugene Cernan, and Ron Evans.

Born in Santa Rita, New Mexico, in 1935, he was a geologist, making him the first true scientist to explore the site. He proposed that the place of the moon landing be the great Tsiolkovski crater, located on the hidden side of the Moon, but NASA rejected the idea as dangerous.

Schmitt, who was on his first spaceflight, like Evans, had the honor of leaving the last human footprint on the Moon, as well as taking the famous panoramic photograph of Earth called “The Blue Marble.”

Photo of Earth, taken by Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17

Apollo 17 departed from the Kennedy Space Center in a Saturn V, on December 7, 1972, and they stepped onto the lunar surface at 2:54:58 p.m. on December 11, in the Taurus-Littrow region.

Cernan and Schmitt collected samples and took panoramic photos, they unfurled the American flag and conducted experiments on electrical properties, cosmic rays, and neutron probes. They also deployed various payloads of seismic profiles.

Known as Jack, he accompanied Gene Cernan on the surface of the Moon.

In total, Cernan and Schmitt spent 22 hours, 3 minutes and 57 seconds walking on the surface, and the module spent 74 hours, 59 minutes and 40 seconds. By December 14, 1972, they were already back on Earth.

Pilot Evans died in 1990, while Cernan passed away in 2017. Schmitt is still alive.

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