The final manned mission to the moon, Apollo 17, began its journey home on this day in 1972, leaving behind the last Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV). The LRV acted as ground transport for astronauts and equipment, allowing for otherwise impossible research and exploration. The departure of Apollo 17’s crew saw the third and final LRVs abandoned on the moon.
Apollo 17’s crew, Commander Eugene Cernan, Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans and five mice, utilized the LRV to travel as far as 20.1 kilometers in a day. They (probably not the mice) traveled as far as 7.6 kilometers from the lunar module landing craft. Schmitt stated that without the machine, “the major scientific discoveries” and “our current understanding of lunar evolution” would have been out of reach.
Photo: Apollo 17 mission, 12 December 1972. Astronaut Eugene A. Cernan, commander, makes a short checkout of the Lunar Roving Vehicle (LRV) during the early part of the first Apollo 17 Extravehicular Activity (EVA-1) at the Taurus-Littrow landing site.