The Apollo 17 spaceship carrying astronauts Eugene Carnan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt rocketed into earth orbit early on Thursday (December 7) after a delayed but spectacular moon launching at Cape Kennedy in Florida.
GV Apollo 17 on launching pad
STV Rocket prior to launch
CU Exhaust jets
GV Apollo on launching pad as countdown starts 10...9... and lift off
LV Apollo in flight over Cape Canaveral (2 shots)
Initials BB/0124 SH/BOB/BB/0144
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Background: The Apollo 17 spaceship carrying astronauts Eugene Carnan, Ronald Evans and Harrison Schmitt rocketed into earth orbit early on Thursday (December 7) after a delayed but spectacular moon launching at Cape Kennedy in Florida.
Flames and smoke from the Saturn Five rocket turned night into day as it roared slowly off the launching ramp.
The launch came after a dramatic delay of two hours and 40 minutes--caused only 30 seconds before the rocket was due to ignite. It happened when an automatic sequencer which takes over complete control o all functions during the final part of the countdown detected a lack of pressure in a fuel tank in the Saturn Five booster rocket.
Emergency equipment slid into place close to the command module and workers in the launching area were evacuated to concerts bunkers. At that point, nobody know whether the astronauts would have to use their emergency escape rocket to blast away from the Saturn booster--which in effect was a giant bomb with liquid fuel equivalent to one million tone of TNT.
But the problem soon sorted itself out and the launch--probably the last in the 25,000 million dollar Apollo moon exploration series--held spectators spellbound.
The project is man's sixth exploration of the moon. If all goes well. Cernan and Schmitt--the first qualified geologist to land on the moon-will spend a record of 75 hours on the lunar surface conducting the most sophisticated experiments ever carried out there.
The astronauts are due to land on the moon on Monday December II and return to earth on December for splashdown in the pacific southeast of Samoa.