Contrary to the cries of conspiracy theorists, there was once a time when man travelled to the moon, and on this day in 1972 we made one last splashdown in the Pacific Ocean before cutting ties. Since then, mankind hasn’t travelled more than 640km above the Earth’s surface (the moon lies almost 386,000km above).
The three men aboard Apollo 17 — Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt — only called the moon their home for a little over three days, but their moonwalks were the longest ever carried out by an Apollo crew. They even carried home a record haul in moon rock souvenirs: 117kg worth.
Our space dreams are of course not completely dashed; the Mars rover currently takes the spotlight, but man hasn’t set foot on a celestial surface in quite some time. Hopefully (and if Newt Gingrich has his way) Apollo 17 won’t have been the last. [Forbes]