40 years since men last walked on the moon – tech2.org

40 years since men last walked on the moon


After consuming billions in expenditures, peaking at nearly $ 8 billion in 1966, the NASA Apollo space program abruptly ended with the Apollo 17 mission in December 1972.

Forty years ago, the December 7, astronauts Ron Evans and Eugene Cernan and their traveling companion, astronaut-geologist Harrison "Jack" Schmitt, became the last men to take off to the moon.

Cernan had already traveled to space twice, first as a Gemini 9A pilot in June 1966, then as an Apollo 10 lunar module pilot in May 1969.

When he started in 1961, using a Saturn A spacecraft and baptized as the Apollo program in 1963, the spatial schedule of EE. UU It included 20 missions. The range was reduced immediately after Apollo 11 achieved the first men on the Moon in July 1969.

The combination of declining public interest following the successful landing of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, together with rising costs and NASA's enthusiasm for a new Skylab program, badbadinated in the face of Apollo's plans.

NASA announced the cancellation of Apollo 20 in January 1970, and eight months later it also canceled the Apollo 19 mission and an originally planned mission for Apollo 15. The Apollo 16 mission in July 1971 was renumbered 15, continuing to Apollo 16 in April 1972, then to 17.

The Nixon administration had reduced space budgets from a peak in the mid-1960s, when NASA absorbed just under 4.5 percent of the total federal EE budget. . UU 400,000 employees and contractors. The work force had dropped to 190,000, with plans to cut another 50,000 jobs, in January 1970.

In 1971, the White House had planned to cancel the Apollo program after Apollo 15, but finally left the last two Apollo missions instead.

NASA also reallocated funds and experience to the launch of Saturn 5 from the Skylab orbital station in 1973, while the prospective development of a space shuttle, backed by a presidential task force in 1969, further diverted the experience. The last three Apollo expeditions, which may have included landings in the Copernicus or Tycho craters, were discarded.

With the program completed, NASA was under pressure from the National Academy of Sciences to include a scientist in one of the final missions. Schmitt was one of the first six astronaut scientists selected in 1965, and was training for Apollo 18.

Under pressure from scientists, Schmitt landed a spot in Apollo 17, which took off in the early hours of December 7. 1972. It was the first and only mission to take a scientist.

Four days after takeoff, Schmitt became the 12th and last person, and only geologist, to step on the moon when he and Cernan left their lunar Module, Challenger.

The first day of his flight, Schmitt had photographed the Earth with the continent of Antarctica covering the top, flying over the tip of Africa.

The objectives of Apollo 17 were to sample the soils of the lunar highlands and investigate the possibility of a relatively new volcanic activity. The spacecraft landed in the Taurus-Littrow valley, where Cernan and Schmitt spent little more than three days walking and driving in a lunar vehicle, while pilot Evans remained in lunar orbit in the command / service module.

During their three lunar rides, Cernan and Schmitt collected lunar samples and measured how the acceleration of the Moon's gravity varied in different places near the landing site, which helped to measure the thickness of the basalt layer in the area.

The data collected by the Apollo 17 -Littrow Valley team consists mainly of gravel soils cemented into clumps that rise up to 1000 meters above the valley, with basalt underlying the valley floor. The spacecraft returned with 110 kg of rock and soil samples, more than what was returned from other lunar landing sites, and 2200 photographs.

Evans also took scientific measurements and photographs of the orbit using scientific instruments mounted on the service module.

Apollo 17 also discovered the "orange soil", which Schmitt first noticed at the end of the Shorty crater 14 m deep. Schmitt collected samples of "orange glbad and partially crystallized black glbad underneath" while digging a trench wall "so he looked at the sun to provide good photographic images".

It was later discovered that the orange soil was composed of tiny volcanic glbad beads. More recently, researchers detected traces of water within the beads and other similar rocks, returned to Earth by Apollo astronauts.

Cernan, Evans and Schmitt returned to Earth on December 19 after a 12-day mission. Evans died in 1990, and Cernan in January 2017.

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