Neal Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin’s landing on the Moon on July 20, 1969, seemed to open up a new era of human exploration that could lead to both a fresh scientific understanding of the universe and the possibility of commercial rewards. But that potential was not to be fulfilled. Budget problems in the United States, altered priorities in the Soviet Union, and the lack of effective space technology in the rest of the world led to a significant downturn in the scope of manned space activity after the Apollo program. Low Earth orbit represented the height of ambition for manned endeavor on Skylab, the space shuttle, and the International Space Station. As a result, no human has returned to the lunar surface since Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt left the Moon on December 14, 1972.
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Volume 62, Issue 4, July-August, 2019