The Greatest Leap, part 6: After Apollo, NASA still searching for an encore

February 13, 2018

Video shot by Joshua Ballinger, edited and produced by Jing Niu and David Minick. Click here for transcript.

And then it was all over.

After the drama of Apollo 13, the final four human missions to the Moon in 1971 and 1972 flew smoothly. With each successive, increasingly routine landing, astronauts made longer forays out onto the dusty lunar terrain and delved deeper into the scientific secrets hidden there.

By the time the crew of Apollo 17 returned to Earth in the Command Module America, much of the country had stopped noticing. During a CBS News program about the final human mission to the Moon, Walter Cronkite asked the rocket scientist who led development of the Saturn V rocket, Wernher von Braun, why the public had become so blasé about spaceflight just a couple of years after the first human landing.

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