Human Spaceflights

International Flight No. 43

Apollo 17


Patch Apollo 17 Apollo program patch

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Launch, orbit and landing data

Launch date:  07.12.1972
Launch time:  05:33 UTC
Launch site:  Cape Canaveral (KSC)
Launch pad:  39-A
Altitude Earth:  169 - 178 km
Altitude Moon:  94 - 317 km
Inclination Earth:  32.56°
Inclination Moon:  159.90°
Undocking CSM-LM:  11.12.1972, 17:20:56 UTC
Moon landing:  11.12.1972, 19:55:14 UTC
Landing point:  20° 11' 26.88" N 30° 46' 18.05" E
Docking CSM-LM:  15.12.1972, 01:10:15 UTC
Landing date:  19.12.1972
Landing time:  19:25 UTC
Landing site:  17° 88' S, 166° 11' W

walkout photo

Apollo 17 crew

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alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo

alternate crew photo


No.   Surname Given names Position Flight No. Duration Orbits
1 USA  Cernan  Eugene Andrew "Gene"  CDR 3 12d 13h 52m  1,5 
2 USA  Evans  Ronald Ellwin, Jr. "Ron"  CMP 1 12d 13h 52m  1,5 
3 USA  Schmitt  Harrison Hagan "Jack"  LMP 1 12d 13h 52m  1,5 

Crew seating arrangement

1  Cernan
2  Evans
3  Schmitt
Apollo Command and Service Module

Backup Crew

No.   Surname Given names Position
1  Young  John Watts  CDR
2  Roosa  Stuart Allen "Stu"  CMP
3  Duke  Charles Moss, Jr. "Chuck"  LMP

Support Crew

  Surname Given names
 Parker  Robert Alan Ridley
 Fullerton  Charles Gordon
 Overmyer  Robert Franklyn


Launch from Cape Canaveral (KSC). First night launch of the Apollo program. The launch had been delayed 2 hours 40 minutes by a countdown sequencer failure. Landing 560 km west of Samoa Islands in the Pacific Ocean.

This mission was the final moonlanding with the LM Challenger. The landing site were the Taurus Littrow highlands and valley area. The crew performed a heat flow and convection demonstration and an Apollo light flash experiment during the translunar coast. The lunar surface staying time was 75 hours.

After separating from the Command/Service Module, the Lunar Module Challenger and its crew of two, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt, adjusted their orbit and began preparations for the descent to Taurus-Littrow. While Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt prepared for landing, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans remained in orbit to take observations, perform experiments and await the return of his crew-mates a few days later.

Soon after completing their preparations for landing, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt began their descent to the Taurus-Littrow valley on the lunar surface. Several minutes after the descent phase was initiated, the Lunar Module pitched over, giving the crew their first look at the landing site during the descent phase and allowing Eugene Cernan to guide the spacecraft to a desirable landing target while Harrison Schmitt provided data from the flight computer essential for landing. The LM touched down on the lunar surface at 02:55 PM EST on December 11, 1972. Shortly thereafter, the two astronauts began re-configuring the LM for their stay on the surface and began preparations for the first moonwalk of the mission, or EVA-1

Three EVAs were performed by Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

The first EVA was performed on December 11, 1972 (7h 12m). The first moonwalk of the mission began approximately four hours after landing, at about 06:55 PM. The first task of the first lunar excursion was to offload the Lunar Roving Vehicle and other equipment from the Lunar Module. While working near the rover, a fender was accidentally broken off when Eugene Cernan brushed up against it, his hammer getting caught under the right-rear fender, breaking off the rear extension. The same incident had also occurred on Apollo 16 as Commander John Young maneuvered around the rover. Although this was not a mission-critical issue, the loss of the fender caused Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt to be covered with dust thrown up when the rover was in motion. The crew then deployed the Apollo Lunar Surface Experiments Package, or ALSEP, west of the immediate landing site. After completing this, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt departed on the first geologic traverse of the mission, during which they gathered 14 kilograms (31 lb) of samples; took seven gravimeter measurements; and deployed two explosive packages, which were later detonated remotely to test geophones that had been placed by the astronauts and seismometers that had been placed on previous Apollo missions.

The second EVA happened on December 12, 1972 (7h 37m). One of the first tasks of the EVA was repairing the right-rear fender on the LRV, the rearward extension of which had been broken off the previous day. The pair did this by taping together four cronopaque maps with duct tape and clamping the replacement fender extension to the fender, thus providing a means of preventing dust from raining down upon them while in motion. During this EVA, the pair sampled several different types of geologic deposits found in the valley, including orange-colored soil. They collected 34 kilograms (75 lb) of samples, deployed three more explosive packages and took seven gravimeter measurements.

The final EVA on the lunar surface for long time was performed on December 13, 1972 (7h 19m). They collected specific samples (basalts, rocks, soil). This time nine traverse gravimeter measurements were taken. At least a plaque on the landing gear of the lunar module, commemorating all of the Apollo lunar landings, was unveiled. All in all 110.4 kg of lunar samples had been collected. Eugene Cernan became the last man on the moon. Before reentering the LM for the final time, Eugene Cernan expressed his thoughts: "I'm on the surface; and, as I take man's last step from the surface, back home for some time to come — but we believe not too long into the future — I'd like to just [say] what I believe history will record. That America's challenge of today has forged man's destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt successfully lifted off from the lunar surface in the ascent stage of the Lunar Module on December 14, 1972, at 05:55 PM EST. After a successful rendezvous and docking with Ronald Evans in the Command/Service Module in orbit, the crew transferred equipment and lunar samples between the LM and the CSM for return to Earth. Following this, the LM ascent stage was sealed off and jettisoned at 01:31 AM on December 15, 1972. The ascent stage was then deliberately crashed into the Moon in a collision recorded by seismometers deployed on Apollo 17 and previous Apollo expeditions

While both astronauts were exploring the lunar surface, Ronald Evans was conducting numerous scientific activities in the CSM (America) in lunar orbit, using for example the three new scientific module experiments (infrared radiometer, ultraviolet spectrometer and a lunar sounder).

Ronald Evans also performed a trans Earth EVA on December 17, 1972 (1h 6m) to recover several film cassettes, and the crew conducted again several scientific experiments.

The recovery ship was the USS Ticonderoga.

Photos / Drawings


Apollo 17 traverse

more photos from the moon


Last update on November 28, 2014.