Lunar Exploration

By brownwd
  • First man-made object reaches the Moon

    First man-made object reaches the Moon
    The first man-made object to reach the Moon was the unmanned Soviet probe Luna 2, which made a hard landing on September 14, 1959.
  • First photographs of the far side of the Moon

    First photographs of the far side of the Moon
    The far side of the Moon was first photographed on October 7, 1959 by the Soviet probe Luna 3.
  • First successful U.S. moon probe launched

    First successful U.S. moon probe launched
    Ranger 7 was the first US space probe to successfully transmit close images of the lunar surface back to Earth. It was also the first completely successful flight of the Ranger program. Launched on 28 July 1964, Ranger 7 was designed to achieve a lunar impact trajectory and to transmit high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface during the final minutes of flight up to impact.
  • Ranger 8 mission

    Ranger 8 mission
    Ranger 8 obtains close-up images of the Moon's surface. These pictures helped select landing sites for future Apollo missions and were used for scientific study.
  • Ranger 9

    Ranger 9
    Ranger 9 transmita high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface during the final minutes of flight up to impact.
  • First soft landing on the Moon

    First soft landing on the Moon
    The Soviets nonetheless remained in the lead for some time. Luna 9 was the first probe to soft land on the Moon and transmit pictures from the Lunar surface on February 3, 1966. It was proven that a lunar lander would not sink into a thick layer of dust, as had been feared.
  • First artificial satellite of the Moon

    First artificial satellite of the Moon
    The first artificial satellite of the Moon was the Soviet probe Luna 10.
  • First U.S. soft-lander on the surface of the Moon

    First U.S. soft-lander on the surface of the Moon
    Surveyor 1 was the first lunar soft-lander in the unmanned NASA Surveyor program. This lunar soft-lander gathered data about the lunar surface that would be needed for the manned Apollo Moon landings that began in 1969.
  • First U.S. lunar orbiter

    First U.S. lunar orbiter
    The Lunar Orbiter 1 unmanned spacecraft, part of the Lunar Orbiter Program, was the first American spacecraft to orbit the Moon. It was designed primarily to photograph smooth areas of the lunar surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions.
  • Lunar Orbiter 2 arrives at the Moon

    Lunar Orbiter 2 arrives at the Moon
    The Lunar Orbiter 2 spacecraft was designed primarily to photograph smooth areas of the lunar surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions. It was also equipped to collect selenodetic, radiation intensity, and micrometeoroid impact data.
  • Luna 13 becomes the third spacecraft to land on the Moon

    Luna 13 becomes the third spacecraft to land on the Moon
    Luna 13 lands in the Oceanus Procellarum region of the Moon and transmits panoramic photographs from the lunar surface.
  • Surveyor 3 lands on the Moon

    Surveyor 3 lands on the Moon
    Surveyor 3 was the third lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. It landed at the Mare Cognitum portion of the Oceanus Procellarum and transmitted a total of 6,315 TV images to the Earth.
  • Lunar Orbitor 5 arrives at the Moon

    Lunar Orbitor 5 arrives at the Moon
    Lunar Orbiter 5, the last of the Lunar Orbiter series, was designed to take additional Apollo and Surveyor landing site photography and to take broad survey images of unphotographed parts of the Moon's far side.
  • Surveyor 5 lands on the Moon

    Surveyor 5 lands on the Moon
    Surveyor 5 was the fifth lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. Surveyor 5 landed on Mare Tranquillitatis. A total of 19,049 images were transmitted to Earth.
  • Surveyor 6 lands on the Moon

    Surveyor 6 lands on the Moon
    Surveyor 6 was the sixth lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program that reached the surface of the Moon. Surveyor 6 landed on the Sinus Medii. A total of 30,027 images were transmitted to Earth.
  • Surveyor 7 lands on the Moon

    Surveyor 7 lands on the Moon
    Surveyor 7 was the seventh and last lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. A total of 21,091 pictures were transmitted to Earth.
  • Zond 5 circles the Moon and returns

    Zond 5 circles the Moon and returns
    On September 18, 1968, Zond-5 became the first spacecraft to circle the Moon and return to land on Earth. A biological payload of two Russian tortoises, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. It photographed the Earth from a distance of 90,000 km, but a subsequent malfunction of the orientation system prevented it from photographing the Moon.
  • First humans orbit the Moon

    First humans orbit the Moon
    On December 24, 1968, the crew of Apollo 8, Frank Borman, James Lovell and William Anders, became the first human beings to enter lunar orbit and see the far side of the Moon in person.
  • Apollo 10 success

    Apollo 10 success
    Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program. Its purpose was to be a dress rehearsal for the Apollo 11 mission, testing all of the procedures and components of a Moon landing without actually landing on the Moon itself. The mission included the second crew to orbit the Moon and an all-up test of the Lunar Module (LM) in lunar orbit. The LM came to within 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km)[2] of the lunar surface during practice maneuvers.
  • Humans land on the Moon

    Humans land on the Moon
    Humans first landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The first man to walk on the lunar surface was Neil Armstrong, commander of the U.S. mission Apollo 11.
  • Apollo 12 visits the Moon

    Apollo 12 visits the Moon
    Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the United States Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon. It was launched on November 14, 1969, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean performed just over one day and seven hours of lunar surface activity while Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon remained in lunar orbit. The landing site for the mission was located in the southeastern portion of the Ocean of Storms.
  • Luna 16 returns Moon soil samples

    Luna 16 returns Moon soil samples
    Luna-16 landed in the Sea of Fertility on September 20, 1970. It had two cycloramic optical-mechanical cameras of higher light sensitivity than Luna-9, with lamps and a wide lens aperture, since this mission landed at night. The spacecraft returned a 101 gram sample of lunar rock and soil to Earth.
  • First robot lunar rover

    First robot lunar rover
    The first robot lunar rover to land on the Moon was the Soviet vessel Lunokhod 1 on November 17, 1970 as part of the Lunokhod program.
  • Apollo 14 lands on the Moon

    Apollo 14 lands on the Moon
    Apollo 14 was the eighth manned mission in the United States Apollo program, and the third to land on the Moon. It was the last of the "H missions," targeted landings with two-day stays on the Moon with two lunar EVAs, or moonwalks.
  • Apollo 15 lands on the Moon

    Apollo 15 lands on the Moon
    Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the United States' Apollo program, the fourth to land on the Moon, and the eighth successful manned mission. It was the first of what were termed "J missions," long stays on the Moon, with a greater focus on science than had been possible on previous missions. It was also the first mission on which the Lunar Roving Vehicle was used.
  • Luna 19 orbits the Moon

    Luna 19 orbits the Moon
    Luna 19 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. Luna 19 extended the systematic study of lunar gravitational fields and location of mass concentrations. It also studied the lunar radiation environment, the gamma-active lunar surface, and the solar wind. Photographic coverage via a television system was also obtained.
  • Apollo 16 arrives at the Moon

    Apollo 16 arrives at the Moon
    Apollo 16 was the tenth manned mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth to land on the Moon and the first to land in the lunar highlands. The second of the so-called "J missions," it was crewed by Commander John Young, Lunar Module Pilot Charles Duke and Command Module Pilot Ken Mattingly.
  • Last Apollo mission

    Last Apollo mission
    Apollo 17 was the final mission of the United States' Apollo lunar landing program, and was the sixth landing of humans on the Moon. The three-member crew consisted of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt
  • Luna 21 arrives at the Moon with Lunokhod 2 rover

    Luna 21 arrives at the Moon with Lunokhod 2 rover
    Luna 21 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program. The spacecraft landed on the Moon and deployed the second Soviet lunar rover (Lunokhod 2). The primary objectives of the mission were to collect images of the lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study mechanical properties.
  • Luna 22 orbits the Moon

    Luna 22 orbits the Moon
    The Soviet Union's Luna 22 was a lunar orbiter mission. The spacecraft carried imaging cameras and also had the objectives of studying the Moon's magnetic field, surface gamma ray emissions and composition of lunar surface rocks, and the gravitational field, as well as micrometeorites and cosmic rays.
  • Last Soviet Moon mission

    Last Soviet Moon mission
    The unmannded Soviet moon probe Luna 24 returns to Earth after successfuly completing its mission to retrieve lunar soil samples.
  • Japan places spacecraft in Moon orbit

    Japan places spacecraft in Moon orbit
    In 1990 Japan visited the Moon with the Hiten spacecraft, becoming the third country to place an object in orbit around the Moon. The spacecraft released the Hagoromo probe into lunar orbit, but the transmitter failed, thereby preventing further scientific use of the mission.
  • U.S. goes back to the Moon with Clementine

    U.S. goes back to the Moon with Clementine
    Launched by NASA on January 25, 1994, the objective of the Clementine mission was to test sensors and spacecraft components under extended exposure to the space environment and to make scientific observations of the Moon and the near-Earth asteroid 1620 Geographos.
  • U.S. launches Lunar Prospector

    U.S. launches Lunar Prospector
    The 19-month Lunar Prospector mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible polar ice deposits, measurements of magnetic and gravity fields, and study of lunar outgassing events. The mission ended July 31, 1999, when the orbiter was deliberately crashed into a crater near the lunar south pole after the presence of water ice was successfully detected
  • First European Moon orbiter

    First European Moon orbiter
    The European Space Agency launches a small, low-cost lunar orbital probe called SMART 1. SMART 1's primary goal was to take three-dimensional X-ray and infrared imagery of the lunar surface. SMART 1 entered lunar orbit on November 15, 2004 and continued to make observations until September 3, 2006, when it was intentionally crashed into the lunar surface in order to study the impact plume.
  • U.S. launches ARTEMIS

    U.S. launches ARTEMIS
    U.S. launches ARTEMIS. Once in orbit around the Moon, the satellite will observe the acceleration, reconnection, turbulence and electrodynamics of the Moon’s interaction with the Sun
  • Japan launches SELENE

    Japan launches SELENE
    In September 2007, Japan launched the SELENE spacecraft, with the objectives to obtain scientific data of the lunar origin and evolution and to develop the technology for the future lunar exploration.
  • China launces first moon probe

    China launces first moon probe
    China launched the Chang'e 1 robotic lunar orbiter on October 24, 2007. Originally planned for a one-year mission, the Chang'e 1 mission was very successful and ended up being extended for another four months. On March 1, 2009, Chang'e 1 was intentionally impacted on the lunar surface completing the 16 month mission.
  • First Indian moon mission

    First Indian moon mission
    India's national space agency, Indian Space Research Organization, launched Chandrayaan-1, an unmanned lunar orbiter, on October 22, 2008. The unmanned Moon Impact Probe landed on the Moon at 15:04 GMT on November 14, 2008 making India the fourth country to touch down on the lunar surface. Among its many achievements was the discovery of the widespread presence of water molecules in lunar soil
  • U.S launches Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

    U.S launches Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
    The LRO mission is a precursor to future manned missions to the Moon by NASA. To this end a detailed mapping program will identify safe landing sites, locate potential resources on the Moon, characterize the radiation environment, and demonstrate new technology
  • China launches Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter

    China launches Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter
    China's Chang'e 2 unmanned lunar probe was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, Chang'e 2 conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit in preparation for a 2013 soft landing by the Chang'e 3 lander and rover.
  • U.S. launches GRAIL mission

    U.S. launches GRAIL mission
    The Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL) was launched. It uses high-quality gravitational field mapping of the Moon to determine its interior structure.