December 6 marked the 43rd anniversary of the launch of Apollo 17, the last mission that landed men on the Moon.
To mark the occasion, developer Ben Feist has created a site that using actual recordings and visuals from the entire mission, lets you live Apollo 17 in real time, second by second as it played out in 1972, and it’s a real treat.
At Apollo17.org, you get to experience all the minutiae of space travel, including equipment meter reads, the details of onboard experiments, you even hear what crewmembers Eugene “Gene” Cernan, Ronald Evans and Jack Schmitt had for breakfast. The stream is strangely gripping – it’s easy to get roped into all the fluid dynamics in microgravity experiment action.
You get to know the crew too – Commander Cernan seems serious, and colours inside the lines (well, it figures), while Schmitt’s sense of humour keeps things light. It’s also a reminder that, while they’re achieving crazy feats of exploration, astronauts are only human.
On day three of the mission, something was amiss. As planned, Houston played the crew’s wakeup music (the University of Kansas J-Hawk Fight Song, as you ask – Evans’s alma mater) in an attempt to rouse them at 56 hours and 35 minutes. No response.
A minute later, Houston wishes Apollo 17 a good morning, and again a few minutes later. No response.
Cue the wakeup music again, 10 minutes later. No response.
57 hours, 5 minutes, 2 seconds: “Good morning, Apollo 17. It’s time to rise and shine. Over.”
Another play of the music half an hour later, and, well, this happened:
Their punishment for such a disappearing act? One day annual leave docked. Ouch.
Cernan, Evans and Schmitt, currently* orbiting the Moon, will be landing tomorrow at just before 8pm GMT.
*43 years hence