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  • The United States had big plans for the Moon, and the Apollo Program was just the start.

  • As the public dreamt of a new home in the stars, NASA developed plans to make cosmic

  • colonization a reality.

  • The Apollo missions were laying the foundation for life on the lunar landscape.

  • But, just three years after the first landing, the United States ventured to the Moon for

  • the final time.

  • In the 1960's, NASA was developing ambitious offshoots for the Apollo Program - primarily

  • establishment of a Moon base intended to extend humanity's time on the Moon.

  • The Lunar Shelter-Laboratory or SHELAB was one of the concepts under consideration.

  • SHELAB consisted of a cabin with an airlock chamber and a lunar excursion truck equipped

  • with a flying belt for the astronauts.

  • Powered by fuel cells and batteries, the shelter would support two astronauts for 14 days.

  • It was believed that the lunar bases could be the start of a large permanent colony on

  • the Moon.

  • At the time, expanding on Apollo wasn't so far fetched.

  • The country's Cold War competition and desire to be first rapidly expanded the potential

  • of space exploration.

  • Two years after NASA began operations, the U.S. government allocated 500 million dollars

  • of the federal budget to the agency.

  • In just five years, the budget grew to 5.2 billion dollars which represented 5.3 percent

  • of all government spending.

  • NASA expanded facilities across the country: the Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston, the

  • Launch Operations Center at Cape Canaveral in Florida and the Mississippi Test Facility.

  • With the massive expansion came hundreds of thousands of jobs.

  • NASA's labor force peaked in the mid 60's with a reported 400,000 staffers and contractors.

  • The majority of NASA's resources went to the Apollo Program.

  • Between 1959 and 1973, the agency spent just over 23 billion dollars on human spaceflight

  • of which nearly 20 billion dollars was for Apollo.

  • That amount of money today would equate to over 130 billion dollars spent on one program

  • alone.

  • But by the 1970's, public attention was no longer above the clouds.

  • With the lunar landing achieved, attention shifted to the seemingly endless Vietnam War.

  • And that's where government funds went as well, putting a huge strain on the U.S. economy.

  • NASA's glory years were starting to lose their grandiose glow.

  • Budget cuts forced the agency to rethink the feasibility of its exploration plans.

  • And since the Apollo Program was expensive and risky, the agency's priorities started

  • to move towards other projects.

  • Ultimately, NASA decided to cut the Apollo Program and its deep space dreams, short.

  • In 1970, the flights planned for Apollo 15, 19 and 20 were cancelled, and the remaining

  • missions were renumbered.

  • The cancelled missions freed up resources for NASA's Skylab and Space Shuttle - programs

  • that were slated to launch over the next two decades.

  • Some of the astronauts who spent years training for Apollo, were reassigned to these programs

  • while others retired without ever making it to space.

  • The Apollo 17 astronauts would be the last men to land on the Moon.

  • Veteran Gene Cernan would embark on his second lunar trek.

  • During Apollo 10, he hovered above the surface but this time he'd touch down.

  • The other final moonwalker was Jack Schmitt.

  • He was the first scientist to be selected for an Apollo crew.

  • And rookie Ronald Evans would man the Command Module while his crewmates journeyed to the

  • Moon.

  • Apollo 17 launched on December 7th, 1972.

  • NASA selected the Taurus-Littrow region as the mission's landing location.

  • The nearby Shorty Crater was believed to hold evidence of past volcanic vents and geologist

  • turned astronaut Jack Schmitt would help provide vital insight of the area.

  • En route to the Moon, the astronauts got a view of home that had never been seen before.

  • One of the astronauts grabbed a camera and snapped a picture.

  • It's known as the Blue Marble Shot and it is the first photograph to capture the entire

  • Earth.

  • The picture became the center of a decades long debate between the Apollo 17 crew members,

  • each claiming they were the photographer.

  • After the snapshot, the crew made it to lunar orbit and eventually landed on the Moon without

  • major issue.

  • The astronauts deployed scientific instruments and collected lunar samples.

  • At the end of their first trip in the Lunar Rover, they hit a problem.

  • But just like Apollo 13, this snag would be solved with duct tape.

  • With the LVR running again, the team ventured to the rim of the Shorty Crater where they

  • observed orange soil, which was later found to be tiny spheres of colored glass likely

  • from a volcanic vent.

  • After about three days and a record 22 hours spent outside the lunar module, the astronauts

  • prepared to head back to Earth for the last time.

  • And with that, NASA's missions to the Moon came to a close.

  • The ambitious goals of the early Apollo Program had fallen like dominos synchronized with

  • NASA's depleting budget.

  • The space agency moved on to other projects that would remain in Low Earth Orbit.

  • Apollo 17 marked the world's last manned trip to another celestial body.

  • But while the Apollo Program came to an end, it's contributions to science did not.

  • And now, decades later, NASA is tracing a new path to the Moon.

  • The Apollo Program revolutionized all aspects of spaceflight.

  • To learn more about the development of the first lunar vehicle, check out this video.

  • You can find the rest of the Apollo series on the Seeker playlist page.

  • Thanks for watching and make sure to subscribe!

  • The Apollo Program revolutionized all aspects of spaceflight.

  • To learn more about the development of the first lunar vehicle, watch the episode we

  • posted in the comments.

  • And make sure to follow Seeker for more science in your feed.

  • Thanks for watching!

The United States had big plans for the Moon, and the Apollo Program was just the start.

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Why Did NASA Cancel the Apollo Program? | Apollo

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/03/30
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