The US manned space flight to the Moon on December 7, 1972 became known as Apollo 17 – also known as the final flight of the Apollo program.

This particular spaceflight included two historic astronauts: Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt.

These Apollo 17 astronauts would become – on this day in history, December 11, 1972 – the last humans to walk on the Moon to date.

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Eugene Cernan was a mission commander who orbited the Earth on Gemini 9 and the moon on Apollo 10, according to Britannica.

Harrison Schmitt was a lunar module pilot and the first scientist-astronaut to set foot on the moon.

The launch of NASA's Apollo 17 spacecraft from Pad A, Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39, Florida, December 7, 1972. (Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

The space flight had a third astronaut on board: Ronald Evans – the command module pilot who had been a naval aviator in the past.

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The last spaceflight launch of the Apollo program was originally scheduled for December 6, 1972, at night; but was delayed due to a technical malfunction, according to Britannica.

On December 11, Cernan and Schmitt landed the lunar module on the moon's surface.

The delay caused the launch to fall just after midnight, making it a December 7 launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The powerful rocket reached Earth orbit in less than 12 minutes and lunar orbit on December 10.

On December 11, Cernan and Schmitt landed the lunar module on the moon's surface.

Apollo 17

Apollo 17 astronaut Gene Cernan touches an American flag on the surface of the moon. (Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

“The Challenger” landed just 2 hours and 34 minutes after separating from the command and service module, according to Britannica.

Shortly after landing, Cernan and Schmitt set foot on the moon.

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During the 75 hours they spent on the Moon's surface, Cernan and Schmitt collected 243.56 pounds of rock and soil samples.

After collecting the samples, the astronauts performed experiments — and started an “experimental package” that sent data back to Earth, according to Britannica.

Apollo 17

Lunar module pilot Harrison H. Schmitt collects geological samples on the moon during his EVA (extra-vehicular activity) on NASA's Apollo 17 lunar landing mission in 1972. (Space Frontiers/Getty Images)

On December 14, the two men returned to the command module and returned to Earth.

Just five days later, on December 19, 2972, the group of astronauts landed in the South Pacific Ocean, according to Britannica.

Since then, no American has set foot on the Moon again.

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Schmitt told Space.com in a 2017 interview that the success of the Apollo program could be attributed to many different elements.

Apollo 17

Eugene A. Cernan, commander of Apollo 17, salutes the U.S. flag on the lunar surface during extravehicular activity (EVA) on NASA's latest lunar landing mission. (Heritage Images via Getty Images)

“The keys to the success of the Apollo program included the existence of several elements – specifically, a sufficient technological base, as well as a large reserve of young, patriotic engineers and skilled workers,” he said.

Cernan is thought to have said these words during his last steps on the Moon: “We will return, with peace and hope for all humanity. Good luck to the crew of Apollo 17.”

Cernan passed away in January 2017 in Houston.

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Schmitt—after his work at NASA—became a U.S. Senator from New Mexico, serving from January 3, 1977, to January 3, 1983.

A geologist, he remains to this day the only person without experience in military aviation to have set foot on the Moon.

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