How long was the last excursion on the moon?

How long was the last excursion on the moon?
Photo by Mike Petrucci / Unsplash

NASA's Apollo program ran from 1968 to 1972, and it accomplished something pretty damn cool — sending humans to the moon for the first time.

Turns out, the program was also the last time humans visited Earth's celestial little bro. Even though Eugene A. Cernan, the last person to officially walk on the moon, said he hoped it would be "not too long into the future" before humans were back, it's been over 50 years since we put the moon squarely in our friend-zone orbit.

On December 13, 1972, the crew of Apollo 17 wrapped up their final excursion, leaving the last set of human footprints to date behind. But while it's kind of sad that we haven't been back yet, we didn't come home totally empty-handed — the Apollo mission retrieved over 840 pounds worth of moon rocks. Take that moon people!

moon walk space GIF by US National Archives

The astronauts came home to great fanfare, even kicking off the proceedings at Super Bowl VII, and much of their gear and even one of the bigger rocks they found can be seen at the Smithsonian and other museums around the country.

And, it's worth noting, the crew of Apollo 17 weren't alone; they brought five mice with them, making those little guys some of the last Earthlings to have visited the moon. Unfortunately, they had to stay inside the command module and only orbited it, but that's a lot more than the vast majority of any other known living creature has ever done with their lives.

Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, and Phooey deserve a spot in the Rodent Hall of Fame.

Now let's see if you can surmise a smaller factoid about this final moon landing. Excursions are defined as when the astronauts leave the landing module and go out and explore. How long were the Apollo 17 astronauts out on their final excursion?

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