Apollo 17 was the eleventh manned space mission in the NASA Apollo program. It was the first night launch of a U.S. human spaceflight and the sixth and final lunar landing mission of the Apollo program. The mission was launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, and concluded on December 19. It remains both the most recent manned moon landing and manned flight beyond low Earth orbit. It also broke several records set by previous flights, including longest manned lunar landing flight; longest total lunar surface extravehicular activities; largest lunar sample return, and longest time in lunar orbit.
During the transit to the Moon, the astronauts took a famous photograph of the earth known as "The Blue Marble", which shows almost the entire continent of Africa and the continent of Antarctica. The other lunar landing missions that photographed the earth shortly after lunar orbit insertion showed the western hemisphere.
The landing site for this mission was on the southeastern rim of the Mare Serenitatis, in the southwestern Montes Taurus. This was a dark mantle between three high, steep massifs, in an area known as the Taurus-Littrow region. Pre-mission photographs showed boulders deposited along the bases of the mountains, which could provide bedrock samples. The area also contained a landslide, several impact craters, and some dark craters which could be volcanic.
Like the astronauts of Apollo 10, 12, 13, and 14 before them, the Apollo 17 crew were recovered in Pacific waters near American Samoa after splashdown. The recovery operation was performed by US Navy helicopter squadron HC-1, with Commander Edward E Dahill III as prime recovery pilot flying helicopter 001. Commander Dahill flew the astronauts to the nearby recovery ship USS Ticonderoga. They were subsequently flown from the recovery ship to the airport at Tafuna where they were greeted with an enthusiastic (and well practiced) Samoan reception before being flown on to Honolulu, thence to Hou...