Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Apollo 17: 40 Years Ago Today... At 2:25 PM, Eastern Standard Time on December 19, 1972, the Apollo 17 command module America safely splashed down into the Pacific Ocean after successfully completing NASA's sixth and final sojourn (excluding Apollo 13) to the surface of the Moon. What would follow a year later would be the launch of the United States' first manned space station, Skylab, to LEO (Low-Earth Orbit)—and the continued development of the space shuttle...which was formally approved several months before the liftoff of Apollo 17 by President Nixon, on January 5, 1972.

With the Apollo and space shuttle programs now a thing of the past, it is up to NASA receiving proper funding by Congress to support the development of commercial spacecraft such as Dream Chaser and the CST-100 (SpaceX's Dragon has already proved its mettle...twice) that will continue performing the orbiters' duties in LEO, and finally bringing Apollo's official BEO (Beyond Earth Orbit) successor, the Space Launch System, to fruition.

The USS Ticonderoga waits in the background as recovery operations are conducted on Apollo 17's America command module in the Pacific Ocean, on December 19, 1972.

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