40 years ago yesterday, Apollo 17, the last of the Apollo series of missions to land men on the on, launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Lifting off just after midnight 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 Saturn 5 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…
Onboard the mighty moon booster were three astronauts. Eugene Cernan, a veteran of two prior missions including the “dress rehearsal” for the first lunar landing three years earlier, commanded Apollo 17 and flew the lunar module “Challenger” to a landing in the Taurus-Littrow valley.