List of lunar probes

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Surveyor 3 on the moon.

This is a list of space probes that have flown by, impacted, or landed on the Moon for the purpose of lunar exploration, as well as probes launched toward the Moon that failed to reach their target. Confirmed future probes are included, but missions that are still at the concept stage, or which never progressed beyond the concept stage, are not.

The list does not include the manned Apollo missions.

Key[edit]

Colour key:

     – Mission or flyby completed successfully (or partially successfully)          – Failed or cancelled mission
     – Mission en route or in progress (including mission extensions)      – Planned mission
  • means "tentatively identified", as classified by NASA [1]. These are Cold War-era Soviet missions, mostly failures, about which few or no details have been officially released. The information given may be speculative.[dated info]
  • Date is the date of:
  • closest encounter (flybys)
  • impact (impactors)
  • orbital insertion to end of mission, whether planned or premature (orbiters)
  • landing to end of mission, whether planned or premature (landers)
  • launch (missions that never got underway due to failure at or soon after launch)
In cases which do not fit any of the above, the event to which the date refers is stated. Note that as a result of this scheme missions are not always listed in order of launch.
  • In the case of flybys (such as gravity assists) that are incidental to the main mission, "success" indicates the successful completion of the flyby, not necessarily that of the main mission.

Lunar probes by date[edit]

1958[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Pioneer 0 United States DOD 17 August 1958 orbiter failure first attempted launch beyond Earth orbit; launch vehicle failure; maximum altitude 16 km Pioneer able.png [2]
Luna E-1 No.1 Soviet Union USSR 23 September 1958 impactor failure launch vehicle failure [3]
Pioneer 1 United States NASA/
No image.svg DOD
11 October 1958 orbiter failure second stage premature shutdown; maximum altitude 113,800 km; some data returned Pioneer I on the Launch Pad - GPN-2002-000204.jpg [4]
Luna E-1 No.2 Soviet Union USSR 12 October 1958 impactor failure launch vehicle failure [5]
Pioneer 2 United States NASA/
No image.svg STL
8 November 1958 orbiter failure third stage failure; maximum altitude 1,550 km; some data returned Pioneer able.png [6]
Luna E-1 No.3 Soviet Union USSR 4 December 1958 impactor failure launch vehicle failure [7]
Pioneer 3 United States NASA/
No image.svg DOD
6 December 1958 flyby failure fuel depletion; maximum altitude 102,360 km; some data returned Pioneer-3-4.gif [8]

1959[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Luna 1 Soviet Union USSR 4 January 1959 flyby partial success first spacecraft in the vicinity of the Moon (flew within 5,995 km, but probably an intended impactor) [9]
Luna E-1A No.1 Soviet Union USSR 18 June 1959 impactor failure failed to reach Earth orbit Luna 2 Soviet moon probe.jpg [10]
Pioneer 4 United States NASA/
No image.svg DOD
4 March 1959 flyby partial success achieved distant flyby; first US probe to enter solar orbit Pioneer-3-4.gif [11]
Luna 2 Soviet Union USSR 14 September 1959 impactor success first impact on Moon Luna 2 Soviet moon probe.jpg [12]
Pioneer P-1 United States NASA 24 September 1959? orbiter? failure designation sometimes given to a failed launch or launchpad explosion during testing; conflicting information between sources Pioneer-5.jpg
Luna 3 Soviet Union USSR 6 October 1959 flyby success first images from the lunar farside Lunik 3.jpg [13]
Pioneer P-3 United States NASA 26 November 1959 orbiter failure disintegrated shortly after launch Pioneer-5.jpg [14]

1960[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Luna 1960A Soviet Union USSR 15 April 1960 flyby failure failed to attain correct trajectory Lunik 3.jpg [15]
Luna 1960B Soviet Union USSR 16 April 1960 flyby failure launch vehicle failure Lunik 3.jpg [16]
Pioneer P-30 United States NASA 25 September 1960 orbiter failure second stage failure; failed to reach Earth orbit Pioneer-5.jpg [17]
Pioneer P-31 United States NASA 15 December 1960 orbiter failure first stage failure Pioneer-5.jpg [18]

1962–1963[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Ranger 3 United States NASA 28 January 1962 impactor failure missed target 1964 71392L.jpg [19]
Ranger 4 United States NASA 26 April 1962 impactor failure hit the lunar farside; no data returned 1964 71394L.jpg [20]
Ranger 5 United States NASA 21 October 1962 impactor failure power failure, missed target 1964 71395L-Ranger.jpg [21]
Sputnik 25 Soviet Union USSR 5 January 1963 lander failure failed to escape Earth orbit [22]
Luna 1963B Soviet Union USSR 2 February 1963 lander? failure failed to reach Earth orbit [23]
Luna 4 Soviet Union USSR 5 April 1963 lander? failure missed target, became Earth satellite [24]

1964[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Ranger 6 United States NASA 2 February 1964 impactor partial success impacted, but no pictures returned due to power failure GPN-2000-001979.jpg [25]
Luna 1964A Soviet Union USSR 21 March 1964 lander failure failed to reach Earth orbit [26]
Luna 1964B Soviet Union USSR 20 April 1964 lander failure failed to reach Earth orbit [27]
Ranger 7 United States NASA 31 July 1964 impactor success returned pictures up until impact GPN-2000-001979.jpg [28]

1965[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Ranger 8 United States NASA 20 February 1965 impactor success returned pictures up until impact GPN-2000-001979.jpg [29]
Cosmos 60 Soviet Union USSR 12 March 1965 lander failure failed to leave Earth orbit [30]
Ranger 9 United States NASA 24 March 1965 impactor success TV broadcast of live pictures up until impact GPN-2000-001979.jpg [31]
Luna 1965A Soviet Union USSR 10 April 1965 lander? failure failed to reach Earth orbit? [32]
Luna 5 Soviet Union USSR 12 May 1965 lander failure crashed into Moon [33]
Luna 6 Soviet Union USSR 8 June 1965 lander failure missed Moon [34]
Zond 3 Soviet Union USSR 20 July 1965 flyby success possibly originally intended as a Mars probe, but target changed after launch window missed [35]
Luna 7 Soviet Union USSR 7 October 1965 lander failure crashed into Moon [36]
Luna 8 Soviet Union USSR 6 December 1965 lander failure crashed into Moon [37]

1966[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Luna 9 Soviet Union USSR 3 February 1966 –
6 February 1966
lander success first soft landing; first images from the surface [38]
Cosmos 111 Soviet Union USSR 1 March 1966 orbiter failure failed to escape Earth orbit Luna orbiter bus.jpg [39]
Luna 10 Soviet Union USSR 3 April 1966 –
30 May 1966
orbiter success first artificial satellite of the moon Luna orbiter bus.jpg [40]
Luna 1966A Soviet Union USSR 30 April 1966 orbiter? failure failed to reach Earth orbit Luna orbiter bus.jpg [41]
Surveyor 1 United States NASA 2 June 1966 lander success first US soft landing; Surveyor program performed various tests in support of forthcoming manned landings Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [42]
Explorer 33 United States NASA 1 July 1966 –
15 September 1971
orbiter partial success studied interplanetary plasma, cosmic rays, magnetic fields and solar X rays; failed to attain lunar orbit as intended, but achieved mission objectives from Earth orbit IMP-D.jpg [43]
Lunar Orbiter 1 United States NASA 14 August 1966 –
29 October 1966
orbiter success photographic mapping of lunar surface; intentionally impacted after completion of mission Lunar orbiter 1 (large).jpg [44]
Luna 11 Soviet Union USSR 28 August 1966 –
1 October 1966
orbiter success gamma-ray and X-ray-based observations of Moon's composition; gravity, radiation and meteorite studies [45]
Surveyor 2 United States NASA 23 September 1966 lander failure crashed into Moon Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [46]
Luna 12 Soviet Union USSR 25 October 1966 –
19 January 1967
orbiter success lunar surface photography [47]
Lunar Orbiter 2 United States NASA 10 November 1966 –
11 October 1967
orbiter success photographic mapping of lunar surface; intentionally impacted after completion of mission Lunar orbiter 1 (large).jpg [48]
Luna 13 Soviet Union USSR 24 December 1966 lander success TV pictures of lunar landscape; soil measurements [49]

1967[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Lunar Orbiter 3 United States NASA 8 February 1967 –
9 October 1967
orbiter success photographic mapping of lunar surface; intentionally impacted after completion of mission Lunar orbiter 1 (large).jpg [50]
Surveyor 3 United States NASA 20 April 1967 –
4 May 1967
lander success various studies, primarily in support of forthcoming manned landings Surveyor 3 on the Moon.jpg [51]
Lunar Orbiter 4 United States NASA May–October 1967 orbiter success lunar photographic survey Lunar orbiter 1 (large).jpg [52]
Explorer 35 United States NASA July 1967 –
24 June 1973
orbiter success studies of interplanetary plasma, magnetic fields, energetic particles and solar X rays IMP-E.jpg [53]
Surveyor 4 United States NASA 17 July 1967 lander failure crashed into Moon Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [54]
Lunar Orbiter 5 United States NASA 5 August 1967 –
31 January 1968
orbiter success lunar photographic survey; intentionally impacted after completion of mission Lunar orbiter 1 (large).jpg [55]
Surveyor 5 United States NASA 11 September 1967 –
17 December 1967
lander success various studies, primarily in support of forthcoming manned landings Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [56]
Zond 1967A Soviet Union USSR 28 September 1967 failure lunar capsule test flight; launch failure Zond L1 drawing.png [57]
Surveyor 6 United States NASA 10 November 1967 –
14 December 1967
lander success various studies, primarily in support of forthcoming manned landings Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [58]
Zond 1967B Soviet Union USSR 22 November 1967 failure lunar capsule test flight; launch failure Zond L1 drawing.png [59]

1968[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Surveyor 7 United States NASA 10 January 1968 –
21 February 1968
lander success various studies, primarily in support of forthcoming manned landings; fifth and final Surveyor mission to achieve soft landing Surveyor NASA lunar lander.jpg [60]
Luna 1968A Soviet Union USSR 7 February 1968 orbiter? failure failed to reach Earth orbit [61]
Zond 4 Soviet Union USSR 2 March 1968 (launch) lunar programme flight test, directed away from Moon, either intentionally or unintentionally Zond L1 drawing.png [62]
Luna 14 Soviet Union USSR 10 April 1968 – ? orbiter success tests of radio communications technologies; lunar mascon studies [63]
Zond 1968A Soviet Union USSR 23 April 1968 flyby? failure launch failure Zond L1 drawing.png [64]
Zond 5 Soviet Union USSR 18 September 1968 flyby success bioscience experiments; returned to soft landing on Earth Zond L1 drawing.png [65]
Zond 6 Soviet Union USSR 14 November 1968 flyby success cosmic-ray, micrometeoroid and bioscience studies; returned to soft landing on Earth Zond L1 drawing.png [66]

1969[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Zond 1969A Soviet Union USSR 20 January 1969 flyby failure launch aborted Zond L1 drawing.png [67]
Luna 1969A Soviet Union USSR 19 February 1969 rover failure launch vehicle failure Lunakod landing bus-Luna17.jpg [68]
Zond L1S-1 Soviet Union USSR 21 February 1969 orbiter failure launch vehicle failure Zond L1 drawing.png [69]
Luna 1969B Soviet Union USSR 15 April 1969 sample return? failure launch failure Luna-16.jpg [70]
Luna 1969C Soviet Union USSR 14 June 1969 sample return failure launch failure Luna-16.jpg [71]
Zond L1S-2 Soviet Union USSR 3 July 1969 orbiter failure launch failure Zond L1 drawing.png [72]
Luna 15 Soviet Union USSR 21 July 1969 sample return? failure? completed 52 lunar orbits then crash-landed Luna-16.jpg [73]
Zond 7 Soviet Union USSR 11 August 1969 flyby success returned to soft landing on Earth Zond L1 drawing.png [74]
Cosmos 300 Soviet Union USSR 23 September 1969 sample return failure failed to escape Earth orbit Luna-16.jpg [75]
Cosmos 305 Soviet Union USSR 22 October 1969 sample return failure failed to escape Earth orbit Luna-16.jpg [76]

1970[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Luna 1970A Soviet Union USSR 6 February 1970 sample return? failure launch vehicle failure Luna-16.jpg [77]
Luna 1970B Soviet Union USSR 19 February 1970 orbiter? failure launch vehicle failure Luna-22.jpg [78]
Luna 16 Soviet Union USSR 20 September 1970 sample return success first robotic sample return Luna-16.jpg [79]
Zond 8 Soviet Union USSR 24 October 1970 flyby success returned to soft landing on Earth Zond L1 drawing.png [80]
Luna 17 Soviet Union USSR 17 November 1970 –
4 October 1971
lander success deployed rover Lunakod landing bus-Luna17.jpg [81]
   Lunokhod 1 rover success first robotic rover; travelled over 10 km

1971–1983[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Luna 18 Soviet Union USSR 11 September 1971 lander/sample return? failure crashed into Moon Luna-16.jpg [82]
Luna 19 Soviet Union USSR 3 October 1971 –
October 1972
orbiter success Luna-22.jpg [83]
Luna 20 Soviet Union USSR 21 February 1972 sample return success second successful robotic sample return Luna-16.jpg [84]
Soyuz L3 Soviet Union USSR 23 November 1972 orbiter failure launch failure Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft2edit1.jpg [85]
Luna 21 Soviet Union USSR 15 January 1973 –
May 1973?
lander success deployed rover Lunakod landing bus-Luna17.jpg [86]
   Lunokhod 2 rover success second robotic rover; travelled 37 km
Explorer 49 United States NASA 15 June 1973 –
June 1975
orbiter success radio astronomy observations; last US lunar mission until 1994 IMP-E.jpg [87]
Mariner 10 United States NASA November 1973 flyby success en route to Venus and Mercury Mariner10.gif [1]
Luna 22 Soviet Union USSR 2 June 1974 –
November 1974
orbiter success Luna-22.jpg [88]
Luna 23 Soviet Union USSR 6 November 1974 sample return failure damaged on landing, sample return failed [89]
Luna 1975A Soviet Union USSR 16 October 1975 sample return failure failed to reach Earth orbit [90]
Luna 24 Soviet Union USSR 18 August 1976 sample return success third and final successful sample return in Luna programme [91]
ICE (formerly ISEE3) United States NASA 22 December 1983 flyby success gravity assist en route to comet flybys ISEE3-ICE.jpg [92]

1990–1999[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Hiten Japan ISAS March 1990 – October 1991 flyby (approached 10 times) success in Moon-crossing Earth orbit from January 1990, later transferred to lunar orbit after failure of Hagoromo; intentionally impacted on Moon at end of mission; first Japanese probe to enter lunar orbit Hiten.gif [93]
February 1992 – April 1993 orbiter success
   Hagoromo Japan ISAS March 1990 orbiter failure released by Hiten into lunar orbit, but transmitter failed and orbit never confirmed
GEOTAIL Japan ISAS / United StatesNASA September 1992 – November 1994 flyby (approached 14 times) success gravity assist en route magnetotail around L2 / finally deployed into high earth orbit [94]
Clementine United States BMDO/
No image.svg NASA
February – June 1994 orbiter partial success lunar and Earth observations and component testing; planned Geographos flyby failed Clementine Deployed.gif [95]
HGS-1 Hughes Global Services May/June 1998 errant communications satellite, flew within 6,200 kilometers of Moon during orbit correction manoeuvres [96]
Lunar Prospector United States NASA January 1998 –
July 1999
orbiter success lunar surface mapping; intentionally impacted into polar crater at end of mission to test for liberation of water vapour (not detected) Lunar Prospector orbiter.jpg [97]
Nozomi Japan ISAS 24 September 1998 flyby success gravity assists on planned mission to Mars [98]
18 December 1998 flyby success

2000–2009[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
SMART-1 Not the esa logo.png ESA 13 November 2004 –
3 September 2006
orbiter success technology testbed and lunar geological studies; intentionally impacted at end of mission; first European probe to orbit the Moon [99]
SELENE
(Kaguya)
Japan JAXA 3 October 2007 – 10 June 2009 orbiter success mineralogical, geographical, magnetic and gravitational observations H-IIA F13 launching KAGUYA.jpg [100]
Okina
(Relay Star)
9 October 2007 – 12 February 2009 Kaguya subsatellite success relay for Kaguya's Far Side operations
Ouna
(VRAD)
12 October 2007 – 29 June 2009 Kaguya subsatellite success (still in orbit) Very Long Baseline Interferometry
Chang'e 1 China CNSA 5 November 2007 – 1 March 2009 orbiter success 3D lunar mapping and geological observations; first Chinese probe to orbit a body besides Earth Chang e 1.jpg [101]
1 March 2009 impactor success collect data in preparation for future soft landing. [102]
Chandrayaan I India ISRO 8 November 2008 – 29 August 2009 orbiter partial success high resolution three-dimensional mapping, search water in polar region (first detected water, published Science paper jointly with NASA) and spectral analysis of the Moon's surface and inner compositions Chandrayaan-1.jpg [103]
Moon Impact Probe (MIP) 14 November 2008 impactor success test and demonstrate targeting technologies in anticipation of future soft landings, scientific observation of the Moon from close range [104]
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter United States NASA 23 June 2009 – orbiter in orbit survey of lunar resources and identification of possible landing sites LRO 2006.jpg [105]
   LCROSS 9 October 2009 impactor success analyzed upper-stage impact plume for traces of water liberated from the Moon's surface LCROSS separated.jpg [106]

2010–present[edit]

Spacecraft Organization Date Type Status Notes Image Ref
Chang'e 2 China CNSA 1 October 2010 – 27 August 2011 orbiter success capture high resolution images of soft landing site for Chang'e 3, measure and analyze content of the surface [107]
ARTEMIS P1 United States NASA 2 July 2011 – orbiter in orbit to study the effect of the solar wind on the lunar surface [108]
ARTEMIS P2 United States NASA 17 July 2011 – orbiter in orbit to study the effect of the solar wind on the lunar surface [109]
GRAIL A United States NASA 31 December 2011 – 17 December 2012 orbiter success mapped the Moon's gravitational field; intentionally impacted at end of mission [110]
GRAIL B United States NASA 1 January 2012 – 12 December 2012 orbiter success mapped the Moon's gravitational field; intentionally impacted at end of mission [111]
LADEE United States NASA 6 September 2013 – planned 100-day mission orbiter in progress designed to study the lunar exosphere and dust [112]
Chang'e 3 China CNSA 1 December 2013 orbiter in progress soft lander; successfully landed on Moon with Yutu rover 14 December 2013. [113]
lander/rover

Future[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Mariner 10". National Space Science Data Centre. Retrieved 2008-07-16.