Every Time Men Have Landed on the Moon

Source: NASA / Getty Images

As Apollo 17 splashed down on Dec. 19, 1972, to complete its lunar mission, few people predicted that astronauts Eugene A. Cernan and Harrison H. Schmitt would be the last humans  to set foot on the moon for more than 50 years (NASA is planning a return of humans to the moon as early as 2025). 

To compile a list of moon shot astronauts and Apollo mission objectives, 24/7 Tempo reviewed resource material including NASA’s Apollo missions page and Space.com. The Apollo 13 mission of April 1970 is not included in this list because it was aborted in flight due to a failure of the oxygen system.  

The six Apollo crews who traversed the lunar surface gathered immeasurable scientific information about the moon and its relationship to earth. The 12 crew members who actually walked on the moon belong to one of the world’s most exclusive clubs. They are all white  American males, hailing from nine states. All had military backgrounds except Harrison H. Schmitt, from Apollo 17. Schmitt, Buzz Aldrin, David R. Scott, and Charles M. Duke Jr. are the only moonwalkers still alive today. (See the number of space travelers every year since space travel began.)

The objectives of the lunar missions extended far beyond just gathering 850 pounds of moon rocks. Astronauts performed lunar orbital experiments and probed the moon’s mass and gravitational variations. They deployed solar wind composition and seismic instruments. They acted as surveyors, scouting out future landing spots. Their lunar module gave them mobility enabling them to drive as much as 18 miles from the landing site. (These are the most important events in NASA’s history.)

NASA is planning to return to the moon. Artemis 1 is an uncrewed test flight planned as the first in a series of missions to build an extended human presence on the moon.The launch was delayed twice due to engine problems and was then scheduled for liftoff on Sept. 27. That date was scrubbed, too, because of the approach of Hurricane Ian. A new launch date has not yet been announced.

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