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  Mercury - Gemini - Apollo
  December 7-19, 1972: Remembering Apollo 17

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Author Topic:   December 7-19, 1972: Remembering Apollo 17
Whizzospace
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Posts: 101
From: San Antonio, TX
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 12-06-2012 05:15 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Whizzospace   Click Here to Email Whizzospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
40 years ago tonight, clad in my pajamas and curled up in my favorite quilt, I parked in front of a 1969 Zenith Color Console and watched a Saturn V rocket bathed in bright spotlights. I was finally old enough to appreciate just what an expedition to the Moon really meant, in terms of both technical prowess and faded national will. Yet here we were at what NBC News called "the beginning of the end" for Apollo. I had watched Tracy Cernan, Apollo 17 Commander Gene Cernan's daughter, who was not much younger than me, give an interview on the Today Show. I had my Marx Toys Johnny Apollo, and his erector set-built lunar rover standing by, but we had to get into, then out of, Earth orbit first.

The only night launch of a manned moon flight became a long night. As the excitement built, in the way only a manned flight away from Earth can, there was a big burp. At T-minus thirty seconds, the sequence halted. For over two and a half hours the NASA team troubleshot what turned out to be a small error, while a school kid from mid-Missouri got more and more sleepy. I remember dozing in and out, still mostly seeing the white rocket sitting next to its red tower... and then something broke through my haze: it was the deep baritone of a public affairs officer saying "eleven, ten, nine...!" The haze of 11:33 PM Central Standard Time faded immediately - it had already been a long week in Mrs. Mansfield's Sixth Grade class - and I tumbled upright into the glow of the screen.

The TV phosphors overloaded, and cheers went up across the Eastern U.S. as the superbooster's big exhausts made night into day. We were going to Moon! Real guys, including a rock scientist, were going to make a quick swing around the Earth... and then LEAVE! In a few days we would watch a remotely operated camera come to life on another world, and actually see both men's faces on the lunar surface, instead of just their golden visors. And I would feel the first sadness of loss, as we experienced the final segment of our species' greatest achievement. Horribly, it would all become a lot of rediscovered scrapbook photos, later a great digital archive, and in time the lousy, rudderless manned spaceflight program of today.

But 40 years ago tonight, the exhilaration, the pride, and the emotional boost of bittersweetness were satisfying and real. "Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17."

moonguyron
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Posts: 41
From: salado, tx, usa
Registered: Jan 2011

posted 12-06-2012 06:34 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for moonguyron   Click Here to Email moonguyron     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Well written. I agree completely.

Mike Burelle
New Member

Posts: 2
From: Quebec, Canada
Registered: Nov 2012

posted 12-06-2012 06:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Mike Burelle   Click Here to Email Mike Burelle     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Working on last minute editing, on my lecture for Apollo 17 40th anniversary next Wednesday. If you happen to be in the Montreal area, stop by. It’s at 8:00 PM. It’s in French.

Orthon
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Posts: 110
From: Gilbert, Arizona 85296
Registered: May 2002

posted 12-06-2012 08:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Orthon   Click Here to Email Orthon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Every time I view the Apollo 17 liftoff - people whooping and hollering) reminds me of the sad frame of mind of Americans. Where were they during Apollo 12, 13, 14, 15 and 16? What they should have felt was very sad and diappointed that their country was throwing away a fantastic transportation system that took a decade to build. Just another "Super Bowl" type of event I guess. Exploration? Well THAT'S boring after a while. Pitiful.

bwhite1976
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Posts: 145
From: belleville, IL USA
Registered: Jun 2011

posted 12-06-2012 09:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for bwhite1976   Click Here to Email bwhite1976     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hey Guys, I don't know if you have Twitter accounts, but if you do or would like to set up an account please follow @LizMSuckow... she is tweeting the Apollo 17 mission in real mission time. She basically recreates the entire mission from launch to splashdown in hundreds of tweets as if the mission were happening right now. She is very detailed and does an outstanding job.

Robert Pearlman
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Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-07-2012 07:40 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
Last lunar landing launched 40 years ago

Apollo 17, the last of the missions to land men on the moon, began 40 years ago today with the dawning of a man-made sun.

Lifting off just after midnight (EST) on Dec. 7, 1972, the Apollo 17 mission was the final of NASA's moon-bound manned flights — and the first night launch. The massive, 363-foot tall (111 meters) Saturn V rocket turned night into day as the long flames from its five powerful F-1 engines bathed the dark sky with a brilliant, bright-as-the-sun light that appeared to spectators to slowly climb skyward from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

(The first of two anniversary articles based on an interview with Apollo 17's lunar module pilot, Harrison "Jack" Schmitt.)

MCroft04
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Posts: 1219
From: Smithfield, Me, USA
Registered: Mar 2005

posted 12-07-2012 06:57 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for MCroft04   Click Here to Email MCroft04     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
FOX News is going to have an hour long special Sunday evening at 9:00 PM on the astronauts who flew to the moon. Gene Cernan was interview by FOX News today.

Robert Pearlman
Editor

Posts: 27328
From: Houston, TX
Registered: Nov 1999

posted 12-07-2012 07:00 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Thread for discussion of the Fox News special report: Fly Me to the Moon

Ronpur
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Posts: 211
From: Brandon, Fl
Registered: May 2012

posted 12-07-2012 11:13 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Ronpur   Click Here to Email Ronpur     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Great recollections Whizzo. Almost identical to mine,except I did not wake up! I cried, until I saw replays the next day!

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2024
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 12-08-2012 12:40 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The account by Whizzospace brought back many memories. I sat up for a marathon session in front of the TV on the evening of Wednesday 6th December, 1972, to watch live coverage of the launch of Apollo 17. I had seen every launch live since Apollo 10, but this one would occur well past anyone's bedtime. Spare a thought for those of us living five time-zones to the east: for me, the time of launch was 2.53am but the BBC (bless them!) were going to show it live. I stayed up as they showed several space-related documentaries. Then came the final countdown and the dreaded words: "We have a cut-off!" I was gutted.

I had no idea how long it would be before a new launch time would be decided. Eventually, with no expectation of capturing the moment, the BBC cut the satellite-link and shut down for the night. I had to transfer my attentions to the radio. Then I dozed off.

Shortly after 5.30am, some sixth sense woke me up to the sound of Jack King(?) counting down past the T-2 minute mark. So at least I got to hear the launch live on the radio, but after all the media build-up about how spectacular the night-launch would be, I felt like a blind man being shown the Mona Lisa.

And so, after getting confirmation of safe entry into orbit, I climbed the stairs to bed for about two hours sleep before having to get up for school. That's what you call a bittersweet memory.

AstroAutos
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Posts: 724
From: Monaghan Town, Co. Monaghan, Ireland
Registered: Mar 2009

posted 12-08-2012 10:36 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for AstroAutos   Click Here to Email AstroAutos     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Ignore the poor quality of the video, last night one of the presenters on the RTE news here in Ireland got a little tongue-tied when speaking about the Apollo 17 fortieth anniversary.

Caution: The video is the ultimate in cringe...

mark plas
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Posts: 360
From: the Netherlands
Registered: Aug 2000

posted 12-11-2012 03:45 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mark plas   Click Here to Email mark plas     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The NOS the Dutch news Network has posted the original coverage of Apollo 17.

Blackarrow
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Posts: 2024
From: Belfast, United Kingdom
Registered: Feb 2002

posted 12-13-2012 05:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Blackarrow     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Tonight marks exactly 40 years since I last watched astronauts working on the surface of the Moon, live on TV. The third Apollo 17 EVA started on the evening of Wednesday 13th December, 1972. The BBC planned to cover the first part, and we did indeed see the preliminary work around "Challenger" as Cernan and Schmitt loaded up the rover.

The drive northwards to Station 6 obviously produced no TV, and the BBC's time on the transatlantic satellite relay was running out. Finally, live TV appeared again and for a few tantalising minutes I was able to watch the astronauts working on a very steep slope in the vicinity of a huge boulder (the "split rock" that produced memorable photographs). Suddenly it was all over. The BBC had to shut down its transmissions for the night. The only other TV channels (BBC 2 and ITV) had long since closed down. And that was the last time I saw live TV of men on the surface of the Moon. The next day would bring highlights of EVA 3 and of course the dramatic live coverage of "Challenger" launching back into lunar orbit, but I had seen my last views of those iconic white suits bouncing across the grey backdrop of the Moon. I miss those days.

Whizzospace
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Posts: 101
From: San Antonio, TX
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 12-13-2012 07:05 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Whizzospace   Click Here to Email Whizzospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
So sad to think these were final moments.

I recall seeing a red/orange flag on top of a seismic charge, and CAPCOM asking what that object was in the background. For a fleeting moment, we thought, hmm, maybe an artifact from other alien visitors?

I clearly remember Jack Schmitt very excitedly saying "There is orange soil here!"

And I sadly recall those well-said final words that Captain Cernan speaks quite memorably in interviews.

The last real (as opposed to 'Internet-assisted') recall I have is the LRV TV camera briefly showing the empty descent stage. As a kid I remember thinking, "but there's no one left to look."

Whizzospace
Member

Posts: 101
From: San Antonio, TX
Registered: Jan 2006

posted 12-19-2012 12:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Whizzospace   Click Here to Email Whizzospace     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
And 40 years ago today, the last lunar crew splashed down, and came aboard the USS Ticonderoga. I do remember on deck coverage quite clearly, and just enjoyed re-watching Mark Gray's DVD version.

As naval officers and aviators, CAPT Cernan and CDR (soon to be CAPT) Evans were in a familiar world. Dr. Schmitt, speaking very briefly and jokingly, apologized for not being Navy, but noted he sure enjoyed being part of the team that day.

Still not sure if I like those old mustard-colored flight suits though.

Superb work, last Moon crew. "Godpseed the crew of Apollo 17."

APG85
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Posts: 241
From:
Registered: Jan 2008

posted 12-19-2012 07:58 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Hate the Mustard colored flight flight suits. I like the white...

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 12-21-2012 06:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I had a Christmas party for my space club in school yesterday and we watched parts of "On the Shoulders of Giants" and "From the Earth to the Moon."

Paul78zephyr
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Posts: 344
From: Hudson, MA
Registered: Jul 2005

posted 12-29-2012 09:07 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Paul78zephyr     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Who was the launch CAPCOM for Apollo 17?

This website says it was Gordon Fullerton but this lists the CAPCOM as Bob Overmyer.

Clearly if you listen to the launch audio the astronauts are speaking with 'Bob'.

mach3valkyrie
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Posts: 183
From: Albany, Oregon USA
Registered: Jul 2006

posted 12-29-2012 11:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for mach3valkyrie   Click Here to Email mach3valkyrie     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
It was Bob Overmyer.

J.L
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Posts: 388
From: Bloomington, Illinois, USA
Registered: May 2005

posted 12-29-2012 11:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for J.L   Click Here to Email J.L     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by mach3valkyrie:
It was Bob Overmyer.
And indeed there is Bob Overmyer seen behind Gene Kranz in Mission Control during the launch delay.

All times are CT (US)

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