Apollo astronauts commemorate 40th anniversary of last moon mission in Chicago

November 13, 2012

Tuesday, the Adler Planetarium commemorated the 40th anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission, the last manned mission to the moon. Apollo 17 astronauts Harrison Schmitt and Eugene Cernan were on hand to cast hand and boot prints for display at the Planetarium. Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell was also on hand for the festivities.

Eugene Cernan holds the distinction of being the last man to set foot on the moon. A Chicago native, he wondered what his father would think if he could have seen him now. He shared a piece of advice his father shared with him:

With Congress facing the fiscal cliff, I asked the astronauts about the future of NASA funding. "We're going to go back to the moon, we're going to go to Mars, but first we've got to get our fiscal house in order," said Cernan.

Harrison Schmitt, the only scientist to ever go to the moon, called the space program a national security concern. "The amount that NASA spends and would need to spend in order to have a vigorous and geopolitically relevant program is so small compared to other things going on, that it has to be looked at not as a budgetary issue but as a geopolitical issue," Schmitt says. He says long-term national security is not certain if we are not the dominant space-faring nation.