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Pictures | Thu Dec 13, 2012 | 8:50pm EST

Goodbye moon

<p>The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this undated NASA handout photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. December 13, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the last manned lunar trip.   REUTERS/NASA/Handout  </p>

The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this undated NASA handout photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. December 13, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of...more

The crescent Earth rises above the lunar horizon in this undated NASA handout photograph taken from the Apollo 17 spacecraft in lunar orbit during the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. December 13, 2012 marks the 50th anniversary of the last manned lunar trip. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>This NASA remote camera file image shows the July 16, 1969 launching of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the Moon, from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex in Florida.    REUTERS/NASA/Handout/Files  </p>

This NASA remote camera file image shows the July 16, 1969 launching of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the Moon, from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex in Florida. REUTERS/NASA/Handout/Files

This NASA remote camera file image shows the July 16, 1969 launching of Apollo 11, the first manned mission to land on the Moon, from the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex in Florida. REUTERS/NASA/Handout/Files

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<p>United States astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag on the surface of the Moon after he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first men to land on the Moon during the Apollo 11 space mission July 20, 1969. REUTERS/Neil Armstrong/NASA/Handout</p>

United States astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag on the surface of the Moon after he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first men to land on the Moon during the Apollo 11 space mission July 20, 1969. REUTERS/Neil...more

United States astronaut Buzz Aldrin salutes the American flag on the surface of the Moon after he and fellow astronaut Neil Armstrong became the first men to land on the Moon during the Apollo 11 space mission July 20, 1969. REUTERS/Neil Armstrong/NASA/Handout

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<p>This NASA file image, dated July 20, 1969, shows one of the first footprints of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon. REUTERS/NASA/Handout </p>

This NASA file image, dated July 20, 1969, shows one of the first footprints of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

This NASA file image, dated July 20, 1969, shows one of the first footprints of Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin on the moon. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong smiles in the lunar module after his historic moonwalk are pictured in this NASA handout photo.  REUTERS/NASA/Handout  </p>

U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong smiles in the lunar module after his historic moonwalk are pictured in this NASA handout photo. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong smiles in the lunar module after his historic moonwalk are pictured in this NASA handout photo. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules in lunar orbit in this July, 1969 file photo. REUTERS/Handout</p>

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules in lunar orbit in this July, 1969 file photo. REUTERS/Handout

The Apollo 11 Lunar Module ascent stage, with astronauts Neil A. Armstrong and Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. aboard, is photographed from the Command and Service Modules in lunar orbit in this July, 1969 file photo. REUTERS/Handout

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<p>The Apollo 17 command module, with astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E.  Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt aboard, nears splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean to conclude the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. REUTERS/Handout</p>

The Apollo 17 command module, with astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt aboard, nears splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean to conclude the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. REUTERS/Handout

The Apollo 17 command module, with astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt aboard, nears splashdown in the South Pacific Ocean to conclude the final lunar landing mission in the Apollo program. REUTERS/Handout

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<p>Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in the Pacific Ocean in this July 1969 file photo.  REUTERS/Handout</p>

Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in the Pacific Ocean in this July 1969 file photo. REUTERS/Handout

Former U.S. President Richard M. Nixon welcomes the Apollo 11 astronauts aboard the U.S.S. Hornet in the Pacific Ocean in this July 1969 file photo. REUTERS/Handout

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<p>NASA astronaut Eugene A. Cernan makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site in this NASA handout picture taken forty years ago today, December 11, 1972, and released December 11, 2012.  REUTERS/NASA/Handout   </p>

NASA astronaut Eugene A. Cernan makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site in this NASA handout picture taken forty years ago today, December 11,...more

NASA astronaut Eugene A. Cernan makes a short checkout of the lunar rover during the early part of the first Apollo 17 extravehicular activity at the Taurus-Littrow landing site in this NASA handout picture taken forty years ago today, December 11, 1972, and released December 11, 2012. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>A prototype of NASA's lunar truck and pressurized lunar rover module is shown in this file photo from the Johnson Space Center in Houston September 8, 2008.   REUTERS/NASA/Handout   </p>

A prototype of NASA's lunar truck and pressurized lunar rover module is shown in this file photo from the Johnson Space Center in Houston September 8, 2008. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

A prototype of NASA's lunar truck and pressurized lunar rover module is shown in this file photo from the Johnson Space Center in Houston September 8, 2008. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>Visitors gather around the Apollo 11 Command Module inside the Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2004. REUTERS/Stringer</p>

Visitors gather around the Apollo 11 Command Module inside the Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2004. REUTERS/Stringer

Visitors gather around the Apollo 11 Command Module inside the Air and Space museum in Washington, D.C., July 20, 2004. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>Miguel Carvajal projects a laser on the red moon during a lunar eclipse seen over Mamayuta Observatory in the Chilean Andes, 600 km north of Santiago, October 27, 2004. REUTERS/Carlos Barria</p>

Miguel Carvajal projects a laser on the red moon during a lunar eclipse seen over Mamayuta Observatory in the Chilean Andes, 600 km north of Santiago, October 27, 2004. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Miguel Carvajal projects a laser on the red moon during a lunar eclipse seen over Mamayuta Observatory in the Chilean Andes, 600 km north of Santiago, October 27, 2004. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

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<p>Researchers from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology check a prototype lunar rover in Shanghai April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer </p>

Researchers from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology check a prototype lunar rover in Shanghai April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

Researchers from the Shanghai Academy of Spaceflight Technology check a prototype lunar rover in Shanghai April 23, 2008. REUTERS/Stringer

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<p>The launch of a lunar heavy cargo launch vehicle, which uses a pair of longer Solid Rocket Boosters and five Space Shuttle Main Engines to put up to 125 metric tons in orbit, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005. REUTERS/Handout</p>

The launch of a lunar heavy cargo launch vehicle, which uses a pair of longer Solid Rocket Boosters and five Space Shuttle Main Engines to put up to 125 metric tons in orbit, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005....more

The launch of a lunar heavy cargo launch vehicle, which uses a pair of longer Solid Rocket Boosters and five Space Shuttle Main Engines to put up to 125 metric tons in orbit, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005. REUTERS/Handout

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<p>Vice President, Space Systems of Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, Doug Young (R), and Leonard Nicholson, Northrop Grumman-Boeing's deputy program manager, introduce their design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a successor to the Space Shuttle, at a news conference in Washington, D.C., October 12, 2005.  REUTERS/Joshua Roberts</p>

Vice President, Space Systems of Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, Doug Young (R), and Leonard Nicholson, Northrop Grumman-Boeing's deputy program manager, introduce their design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a successor to the Space...more

Vice President, Space Systems of Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, Doug Young (R), and Leonard Nicholson, Northrop Grumman-Boeing's deputy program manager, introduce their design for the Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), a successor to the Space Shuttle, at a news conference in Washington, D.C., October 12, 2005. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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<p>The planet Venus (R) is seen after being eclipsed by the crescent moon, as seen from Amman, June 18, 2007. The event is also known as the occultation of Venus by the moon. REUTERS\Muhammad Hamed </p>

The planet Venus (R) is seen after being eclipsed by the crescent moon, as seen from Amman, June 18, 2007. The event is also known as the occultation of Venus by the moon. REUTERS\Muhammad Hamed

The planet Venus (R) is seen after being eclipsed by the crescent moon, as seen from Amman, June 18, 2007. The event is also known as the occultation of Venus by the moon. REUTERS\Muhammad Hamed

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<p>A moon rock brought to Earth by Apollo 11, humans' first landing on the moon in July 1969, floats aboard the International Space Station in this NASA handout photo taken July 21, 2009. REUTERS/NASA/Handout </p>

A moon rock brought to Earth by Apollo 11, humans' first landing on the moon in July 1969, floats aboard the International Space Station in this NASA handout photo taken July 21, 2009. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

A moon rock brought to Earth by Apollo 11, humans' first landing on the moon in July 1969, floats aboard the International Space Station in this NASA handout photo taken July 21, 2009. REUTERS/NASA/Handout

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<p>A new lunar lander, which has a similar design to the Apollo lander but can carry and support twice as many astronauts for twice as long as the Apollo model could, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005. REUTERS/Handout</p>

A new lunar lander, which has a similar design to the Apollo lander but can carry and support twice as many astronauts for twice as long as the Apollo model could, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005. REUTERS/Handout

A new lunar lander, which has a similar design to the Apollo lander but can carry and support twice as many astronauts for twice as long as the Apollo model could, is pictured in this handout image released September 19, 2005. REUTERS/Handout

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<p>People watch a live video of the twin impacts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and its rocket's upper stage as they impact the moon at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, October 9, 2009.   REUTERS/Kim White </p>

People watch a live video of the twin impacts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and its rocket's upper stage as they impact the moon at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, October 9, 2009. ...more

People watch a live video of the twin impacts of the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and its rocket's upper stage as they impact the moon at the NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, California, October 9, 2009. REUTERS/Kim White

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<p>The Ares 1-X test rocket lifts off on a six-minute suborbital flight from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, October 28, 2009.    REUTERS/Pierre Ducharme </p>

The Ares 1-X test rocket lifts off on a six-minute suborbital flight from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Pierre Ducharme

The Ares 1-X test rocket lifts off on a six-minute suborbital flight from launch pad 39B at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, October 28, 2009. REUTERS/Pierre Ducharme

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<p>Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, a retired astronaut, speaks during a memorial service for Neil Armstrong in the Apollo Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center, Florida August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Brown </p>

Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, a retired astronaut, speaks during a memorial service for Neil Armstrong in the Apollo Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center, Florida August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Brown

Kennedy Space Center Director Robert Cabana, a retired astronaut, speaks during a memorial service for Neil Armstrong in the Apollo Saturn V Center at Kennedy Space Center, Florida August 31, 2012. REUTERS/Michael Brown

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<p>A visitor to the Museum of Contemporary Art sizes up an image of the moon at an exhibition of photographs in Sydney November 29, 2000 of the lunar landscape taken by astronauts from the American Apollo missions. REUTERS/File</p>

A visitor to the Museum of Contemporary Art sizes up an image of the moon at an exhibition of photographs in Sydney November 29, 2000 of the lunar landscape taken by astronauts from the American Apollo missions. REUTERS/File

A visitor to the Museum of Contemporary Art sizes up an image of the moon at an exhibition of photographs in Sydney November 29, 2000 of the lunar landscape taken by astronauts from the American Apollo missions. REUTERS/File

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