It was 40 years ago when humans last made the effort to visit another heavenly sphere, on the Apollo 17 mission that launched on this day in 1972. But astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison “Jack” Schmitt didn’t just walk on the lunar surface—they also drove around in a dune buggy, and also skipped around while singing songs. Nixon was so angry about this expression of joy that humans were banned from every visiting the moon again.
That is not exactly the reason why humans have never left the bounds of low-Earth orbit in the four decades since our last lunar mission. But it was the beginning of a general pullback by NASA and America’s space ambitions. We have routinely sent people onto rickety space stations and flying back and forth on a cumbersome space shuttle based on 1960s technology, and even these modest missions have been plagued by tragedy and failure.
An important part of science is kicking rocks down a hill, on the moon. It proves how rocks work!
And here’s an astronaut skipping and hopping “like a kangaroo.” No wonder a worried America got tired of this tomfoolery. Things were not exactly great back on Earth in 1972, and these one-percenters are doing the bunny hop on the taxpayer’s dime?!
Mission Control calls astronaut Harrison “Jack” Schmitt “twinkle toes” in this clip. Where is the dignity?
Schmitt was so mad, he threw a hammer on the moon. Just like Thor!
While off-road vehicles here on Earth are about the dumbest and most destructive “hobby” humans have managed to invent, cruising around the moon in this lunar rover is okay because it’s for science!
And then the lunar module blasted off, We were going to have Martian colonies by now, right?