One final time, an Apollo mission lifted off for a rendezvous with another celestial body. One final time, its command module splashed down in the ocean. In between, astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt made history, becoming the last two men to step foot on the moon.
The two were joined by Ronald Evans on Apollo 17, the last Apollo mission to the moon. This final mission also contained a first. Schmitt was the first scientist to travel into space. Schmitt, who went by “Jack,” earned a doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964 and had worked for the U.S. Geological Survey before undergoing astronaut training.
See a piece of that history, the mission’s command module, at Space Center Houston inside Starship Gallery. Dubbed “America,” it’s one of 19 Apollo command modules on display in the country.
Cernan, who had flown in moon orbit in Apollo 10 but had yet to step foot on its surface, was overjoyed by the experience.
“And, Houston, as I step off at the surface at Taurus-Littrow, I’d like to dedicate the first step of Apollo 17 to all those who made it possible,” Cernan said as he stepped out of the Challenger Lunar Module. “Jack, I’m out here. Oh, my golly. Unbelievable. Unbelievable, but is it bright in the Sun.”