On December 14, 1972, at 05:40:56 GMT, the final lunar EVA ended. It was the last of three moonwalks (EVAs) done by Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt over the course of their seventy-five hours on the lunar surface at Taurus-Littrow.
Shortly before the official ending time of that final EVA, as Captain Cernan prepared to leave the final footprints on the moon and climb the ladder into the Lunar Module, he had these words to say:
As I take man’s last step from the surface, back home for some time to come (but we believe not too long into the future), I’d like to just say what I believe history will record: That America’s challenge of today has forged man’s destiny of tomorrow. And, as we leave the Moon at Taurus-Littrow, we leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return: with peace and hope for all mankind.
The final liftoff from the moon occurred at 22:54:37 GMT and was shown on live television, the only liftoff from the moon ever seen. A color television camera on the Apollo 17 lunar rover was remote controlled by NASA in Houston and the rover had been left parked so that the camera faced the Lunar Module. At the 30:47 mark of this video, you can see the liftoff for yourself.
WARNING: For the sake of your blood pressure and sanity, **DO NOT** read the comments on YouTube for this and other Apollo moon landing videos. The trolls, brain-dead cretins, and conspiracy theorists have taken over. It will just piss you off to realize that there are people out there who are really, honestly, and sincerely that freakin’ stupid.
I don’t know which fact I consider more depressing, that forty-two years down the road we haven’t gone back to the moon and have no plans to go back, or that so many people among us are so ignorant, blind, deranged, and incapable of understanding or even looking at the mountain of evidence that proves that they’re wrong.
The universe is a wonderful place, and we have on occasion done some amazing things. It is often depressing to encounter those who can not or will not see the wonder and beauty of those things, but instead choose voluntarily to live in a shell of fear and ignorance of their own making.
I don’t often quote The Bible, but Matthew 5:5 says, “Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Yes, they will. The meek, fearful, and ignorant will someday have the Earth all to themselves. The rest of us will go to the stars.