21 July 1969: After spending a total of 21 hours, 36 minutes, 21 seconds on the surface of The Moon, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin fired the rocket engine of the Lunar Module’s Ascent Stage. The liftoff was at 17:54 UTC.
Three hours and forty minutes later, the Eagle ascent stage docked with Columbia, the Command/Service Module, in lunar orbit.
21 April 1972, 02:23:35 UTC: Lunar Module Orion (LM-11) touched down on the surface of the Moon at the Descartes Highlands. On board were the Mission Commander, Captain John Watts Young, United States Navy, and Lunar Module Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Charles M. Duke, Jr., United States Air Force. They were the ninth and tenth humans to stand on the Moon.
Technical problems delayed Orion‘s descent for three orbits. Lieutenant Commander Thomas K. (Ken) Mattingly II, U.S.N., the Command Module Pilot, remained in lunar orbit aboard Casper (CSM-113).
As they neared the surface they started to see dust blowing at about 80 feet (24 meters). The lunar module hovered briefly before continued downward.
104:29:22 Duke:Okay, 2 down. Stand by for contact. Come on, let her down. You leveled off.(Pause) Let her on down. Okay, 7. . . 6 percent [fuel remaining]. Plenty fat.
104:29:36 Duke: Contact! Stop. (Pause while they drop to the surface) Boom.
During a debriefing, John Young said,
“When we got the Contact light, I counted ‘one-potato’ and shut the engine down. The thing fell out of the sky the last three feet. I know it did. I don’t know how much we were coming down, maybe a foot a second.” ¹
Young and Duke remained on the surface for 2 days, 23 hours, 2 minutes, 12 seconds. ² During that time, they performed three EVAs totaling 20 hours, 14 minutes, 14 seconds. ³ They drove their Lunar Roving Vehicle 16.6 miles (26.7 kilometers).
A remote television camera was placed on the surface and captured color images of the Lunar Module Ascent Stage departing the Moon for lunar orbit at 01:25:47 UTC, 24 April 1972. ⁴
¹ FAI Record File Number 2301. Greatest Mass Landed on a Celestial Body: 8 257,6 kilograms (18,204.9 pounds)
² FAI Record File Number 2303. Duration of Stay on the Surface of a Celestial Body: 71 hours, 02 minutes, 13 seconds
³ FAI Record File Number 17099: Duration Extravehicular Stay on the Surface of Moon or Planet: 39 hours, 47 minutes, 3 seconds [TDiA note: EVA 1, 118:53:38—126:04:40, 7 hours, 11 minutes, 2 seconds. EVA 2, 142:39:35—150:02:44, 7 hours, 23 minutes, 9 seconds. EVA 3, 165:31:28—171:11:31, 5 hours, 40 minutes, 3 seconds. Total of EVAs 1, 2 and 3: 20 hours, 14 minutes, 14 seconds.]
⁴ FAI Record File Number 17098: Greatest Mass Lifted to Lunar or Planetary Orbit from the Lunar or Planetary Surface: 4 965,5 kilograms (10,947.05 pounds)
14 December 1972: At 4:54:36 p.m., CST (Houston time), the Ascent Stage of the Apollo 17 Lunar Module Challenger lifted off from the landing site in the Taurus-Littrow Valley, The Moon. On board were Mission Commander Eugene A. Cernan and the LM Pilot, Harrison H. Schmitt.
The two Astronauts had been on the surface of the Moon for 3 days, 2 hours, 59 minutes, 40 seconds. During that time they made three excursions outside the lunar lander, totaling 22 hours, 3 minutes 57 seconds.
Apollo 17 was the last manned mission to the Moon in the Twentieth Century. Gene Cernan was the last man to stand on the surface of the Moon.