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In December 1972, on the day when Apollo 17, the final Moon mission, left lunar orbit to return to Earth, their wake-up call was an evocative, soaring, and strangely somber love song, a major hit that year, “The First Time Ever I saw Your Face”, sung by Roberta Flack. “I thought the sun rose in your eyes…”
It was a proud but bittersweet moment for NASA and for the country. JFK’s challenge had been met, and then some. Only four years earlier, Apollo 8’s reading of a Bible verse while orbiting the Moon on Christmas Eve was a beloved worldwide television spectacular. Now we were leaving.