AS THE Challenger leaves the surface of the Moon, we are conscious not of what we leave behind, but of what lies before us. The dreams that draw humanity forward seem always to be redeemed if we believe in them strongly enough and pursue them with diligence and courage. Once we stood mystified by the stars; today we reach out to them. We do this not only because it is man's destiny to dream the impossible, to dare the impossible, and to do the impossible, but also because in space, as on Earth, there are new answers and new opportunities for the improvement and the enlargement of human existence.
This may be the last time in this century that men will walk on the Moon. But space exploration will continue, the benefits of space exploration will continue, the search for knowledge through the exploration of space will continue, and there will be new dreams to pursue based on what we have learned. So let us neither mistake the significance nor miss the majesty of what we have witnessed. Few events have ever marked so clearly the passage of history from one epoch to another. If we understand this about the last flight of Apollo, then truly we shall have touched a "many-splendored thing."
To Gene Cernan, Jack Schmitt, and Ronald Evans, we say God speed you safely back to this good Earth.