LA Times | Let’s Boldly Go Where Man Has Been Before

By Harrison H. Schmitt

President Bush’s plan to propose a permanent return to the moon cannot help but stir memories in an Apollo moonwalker — and raise new hopes for potential exploration. As the last of 12 men to step on the moon, and the only scientist to do so, my recollections are as clear today as 31 years ago.

It was December 1972. President Nixon had just been reelected; the war in Vietnam was in its final years. We landed in a spectacular valley known as Taurus-Littrow, on the southeastern edge of the Sea of Serenity. Apollo 17 was to be the last of the manned American moon missions for at least three decades, but we didn’t know it then.

Taurus-Littrow as a name was not chosen with poetry in mind (Taurus was the mountain range above the valley, and Littrow was the crater nearby). The mind’s poetry, however, is created not by names but by events — events surrounding not only three days in the lives of three astronauts but the close of an unparalleled decade in human history.

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