Exploration of the Moon
The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to that the only available means of exploration had been observation from Earth. The invention of the optical telescope brought about the first leap in the quality of lunar observations. Galileo Galilei is generally credited as the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes; having made his own telescope in 1609, the mountains and craters on the lunar surface were among his first observations using it.
NASA's Apollo program was the first, and to date only, mission to successfully land humans on the Moon. The first landing took place in 1969, when astronauts placed scientific instruments and returned lunar samples to Earth.
The ancient Greek philosopher Anaxagoras (d. 428 BC) reasoned that the Sun and Moon were both giant spherical rocks, and that the latter reflected the light of the former. His non-religious view of the heavens was one cause for his imprisonment and eventual exile. In his little book On the Face in the Moon's Orb, Plutarch suggested that the Moon had deep recesses in which the light of the Sun did not reach and that the spots are nothing but the shadows of rivers or deep chasms. He also entertained the possibility that the Moon was inhabited. Aristarchus went a step further and computed the distance from Earth, together with its size, obtaining a value of 20 times the Earth radius for the distance (the real value is 60; the Earth radius was roughly known since Eratosthenes).
Although the Chinese of the Han Dynasty (202 BC–202 AD) believed the Moon to be energy equated to qi, their 'radiating influence' theory recognized that the light of the Moon was merely a reflection of the Sun (mentioned by Anaxagoras above). This was supported by mainstream thinkers such as Jing Fang, who noted the sphericity of the Moon. Shen Kuo (1031–1095) of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) created an allegory equating the waxing and waning of the Moon to a round ball of reflective silver that, when doused with white powder and viewed from the side, would appear to be a crescent.
Habash al-Hasib al-Marwazi, a Persian astronomer, conducted various observations at the Al-Shammisiyyah observatory in Baghdad between 825 and 835 AD. Using these observations, he estimated the Moon's diameter as 3,037 km (equivalent to 1,519 km radius) and its distance from the Earth as 215,209 miles, which come close to the currently accepted values. In the 11th century, the Islamic physicist, Alhazen, investigated moonlight, which he proved through experimentation originates from sunlight and correctly concluded that it "emits light from those portions of its surface which the sun's light strikes."
By the Middle Ages, before the invention of the telescope, an increasing number of people began to recognise the Moon as a sphere, though many believed that it was "perfectly smooth". In 1609, Galileo Galilei drew one of the first telescopic drawings of the Moon in his book Sidereus Nuncius and noted that it was not smooth but had mountains and craters. Later in the 17th century, Giovanni Battista Riccioli and Francesco Maria Grimaldi drew a map of the Moon and gave many craters the names they still have today. On maps, the dark parts of the Moon's surface were called maria (singular mare) or seas, and the light parts were called terrae or continents.
Thomas Harriot, as well as Galilei, drew the first telescopic representation of the Moon and observed it for several years. His drawings, however, remained unpublished. The first map of the Moon was made by the Belgian cosmographer and astronomer Michael Florent van Langren in 1645. Two years later a much more influential effort was published by Johannes Hevelius. In 1647 Hevelius published Selenographia, the first treatise entirely devoted to the Moon. Hevelius's nomenclature, although used in Protestant countries until the eighteenth century, was replaced by the system published in 1651 by the Jesuit astronomer Giovanni Battista Riccioli, who gave the large naked-eye spots the names of seas and the telescopic spots (now called craters) the name of philosophers and astronomers. In 1753 the Croatian Jesuit and astronomer Roger Joseph Boscovich discovered the absence of atmosphere on the Moon. In 1824 Franz von Gruithuisen explained the formation of craters as a result of meteorite strikes.
The possibility that the Moon contains vegetation and is inhabited by selenites was seriously considered by major astronomers even into the first decades of the 19th century. In 1834–1836, Wilhelm Beer and Johann Heinrich Mädler published their four-volume Mappa Selenographica and the book Der Mond in 1837, which firmly established the conclusion that the Moon has no bodies of water nor any appreciable atmosphere.
The Cold War-inspired "space race" and "moon race" between the Soviet Union and the United States of America accelerated with a focus on the Moon. This included many scientifically important firsts, such as the first photographs of the then-unseen far side of the Moon in 1959 by the Soviet Union, and culminated with the landing of the first humans on the Moon in 1969, widely seen around the world as one of the pivotal events of the 20th century, and indeed of human history in general.
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, at 21:02:24 Z. The far side of the Moon was first photographed on October 7, 1959 by the Soviet probe Luna 3. Though vague by today's standards, the photos showed that the far side of the Moon almost completely lacked maria. In an effort to compete with these Soviet successes, U.S. President John F. Kennedy proposed the national goal of landing a human on the Moon. Speaking to a Joint Session of Congress on May 25, 1961, he said
"First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space."
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. The first artificial satellite of the Moon was the Soviet probe Luna 10, launched March 31, 1966.
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. Humans first landed on the Moon on July 20, 1969. The first human to walk on the lunar surface was Neil Armstrong, commander of the U.S. mission Apollo 11. 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. To date, the last human to stand on the Moon was Eugene Cernan, who as part of the mission Apollo 17, walked on the Moon in December 1972. See also: A full list of lunar Apollo astronauts.
From the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s there were 65 Moon landings (with 10 in 1971 alone), but after Luna 24 in 1976 they suddenly stopped. The Soviet Union started focusing on Venus and space stations and the U.S. on Mars and beyond, and on the Skylab and Space Shuttle programs.
Before the moon race the US had pre-projects for scientific and military moonbases: the Lunex Project and Project Horizon. Besides manned landings, the abandoned Soviet manned lunar programs included the building of a multipurpose moonbase "Zvezda", the first detailed project, complete with developed mockups of expedition vehicles and surface modules.
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. 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", according to the JAXA official website.
The European Space Agency launched a small, low-cost lunar orbital probe called SMART 1 on September 27, 2003. 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.
China has begun the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program for exploring the Moon and is investigating the prospect of lunar mining, specifically looking for the isotope helium-3 for use as an energy source on Earth. 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. On October 1, 2010, China launched the Chang'e 2 lunar orbiter. China landed the rover Chang'e 3 on the Moon on December 14, 2013, became the third country to have done so. Chang'e 3 is the first spacecraft to soft-land on lunar surface since Luna 24 in 1976.
India's national space agency, Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), launched Chandrayaan-1, an unmanned lunar orbiter, on October 22, 2008. The lunar probe was originally intended to orbit the Moon for two years, with scientific objectives to prepare a three-dimensional atlas of the near and far side of the Moon and to conduct a chemical and mineralogical mapping of the lunar surface. 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.
The Ballistic Missile Defense Organization and NASA launched the Clementine mission in 1994, and Lunar Prospector in 1998. NASA launched the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, on June 18, 2009, which has collected imagery of the Moon's surface. It also carried the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS), which investigated the possible existence of water in Cabeus crater. GRAIL is another mission, launched in 2011.
The first commercial mission to the moon was accomplished by the Manfred Memorial Moon Mission (4M), led by LuxSpace, an affiliate of German OHB AG. The 4M spacecraft made a moon flyby on a night of 28 October 2014, after which it entered elliptical Earth orbit, exceeding its designed lifetime by four times.
Following the abandoned US Constellation program, plans for manned flights followed by moonbases were declared by Russia, Europe (ESA), China, Japan and India. All of them intend to continue the exploration of Moon with more unmanned spacecraft.
Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) plans a manned lunar landing around 2020 that would lead to a manned lunar base by 2030; however, there is no budget yet for this project and the plan reverts to robotic missions.
Russia also announced to resume its previously frozen project Luna-Glob, an unmanned lander and orbiter, which is slated to launch in 2016. In 2015, Roscosmos stated that Russia plans to place an astronaut on the Moon by 2030 leaving Mars to NASA. The purpose is to work jointly with NASA and avoid a space race
In August 2007, NASA stated that all future missions and explorations of the Moon will be done entirely using the metric system. This was done to improve cooperation with space agencies of other countries which already use the metric system.
The European Space Agency has also announced its intention to send a manned mission to the Moon, as part of the Aurora programme. In September 2010, the agency introduced a "Lunar lander" programme with a target of autonomous mission to the moon in 2018.
On September 13, 2007, the X Prize Foundation, in concert with Google, Inc., announced the Google Lunar X Prize. This contest requires competitors "to land a privately funded robotic rover on the Moon that is capable of completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images and data back to the Earth."
Timeline of Moon exploration
|Mission (1950–1959)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Scientific result|
|Pioneer 0||17 August 1958||17 August 1958||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Luna E-1 No.1||23 September 1958||23 September 1958||Impactor||Launch failure|
|Pioneer 1||11 October 1958||13 October 1958||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Luna E-1 No.2||11 October 1958||11 October 1958||Impactor||Launch failure|
|Pioneer 2||8 November 1958||8 November 1958||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Luna E-1 No.3||4 December 1958||4 December 1958||Impactor||Launch failure|
|Pioneer 3||6 December 1958||7 December 1959||Flyby||Launch failure|
| Luna 1
(Mechta, Dream, E-1 No.4)
|2 January 1959||4 January 1959||Impactor||Partial success (first successful flyby 5,995 km, shown Moon's magnetic field absence)|
|Pioneer 4||3 March 1959||4 March 1959||7 March 1959||Flyby||Partial success (flyby 60,000 km)|
|Luna E-1A No.1||18 June 1959||18 June 1959||Impactor||Launch failure|
|Luna 2||12 September 1959||13 September 1959||Impactor||Success (first spacecraft reaching the moon surface, impacted east of Mare Serenitatis, discovered time variations in the electron flux and energy spectrum in the Van Allen radiation belt)|
|Pioneer P-1||24 September 1959||24 September 1959||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Luna 3||4 October 1959||6 October 1959||Flyby||Success (first pictures of Moon far side)|
|Pioneer P-3||26 November 1959||26 November 1959||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Mission (1960–1969)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Result|
|Luna E-3 No.1||15 April 1960||15 April 1960||Flyby||Launch failure|
|Luna E-3 No.2||16 April 1960||16 April 1960||Flyby||Launch failure|
|Pioneer P-30||25 September 1960||25 September 1960||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Pioneer P-31||15 December 1960||15 December 1960||Orbiter||Launch failure|
|Ranger 3||26 January 1962||28 January 1962||Impactor||Failure (flyby)|
|Ranger 4||23 April 1962||26 April 1962||26 April 1962||Impactor||Failure (no mid-course correction, crashed at Moon far-side)|
|Ranger 5||18 October 1962||21 October 1962||Impactor||Failure (flyby)|
|Luna E-6 No.2||4 January 1963||11 January 1963||Lander||Launched into wrong orbit|
|Luna E-6 No.3||3 February 1963||3 February 1963||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 4||2 April 1963||>6 April 1963||Lander||Failure (flyby)|
|Ranger 6||30 January 1964||2 February 1964||2 February 1964||Impactor||Failure (TV camera, only instrument, did not work)|
|Luna E-6 No.6||21 March 1964||21 March 1964||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna E-6 No.5||20 April 1964||20 April 1964||Lander||Launch failure|
|Ranger 7||28 July 1964||31 July 1964||Impactor||Success|
|Ranger 8||17 February 1965||20 February 1965||Impactor||Success|
|Cosmos 60||12 March 1965||Lander||Failed to leave Earth orbit|
|Ranger 9||21 March 1965||24 March 1965||Impactor||Success|
|Luna E-6 No.8||10 April 1965||10 April 1965||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 5||9 May 1965||12 May 1965||Lander||Failure (crashed at Sea of Clouds)|
|Luna 6||8 June 1965||11 June 1965||Lander||Failure (flyby)|
|Zond 3||18 July 1965||20 July 1965||Flyby||Success|
|Luna 7||4 October 1965||7 October 1965||Lander||Failure (crashed at Oceanus Procellarum)|
|Luna 8||3 December 1965||6 December 1965||Lander||Failure (crashed at Oceanus Procellarum)|
|Luna 9||31 January 1966||3 February 1966||6 February 1966||Lander||Success (first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing and first pictures from Moon surface, landed at Oceanus Procellarum)|
|Cosmos 111||1 March 1966||3 March 1966||Orbiter||Launched into wrong orbit|
|Luna 10||31 March 1966||3 April 1966||30 May 1966||Orbiter||Success (first lunar orbiter)|
|Surveyor 1||30 May 1966||2 June 1966||7 January 1967||Lander||Success (landed at Oceanus Procellarum)|
|Lunar Orbiter 1||10 August 1966||14 August 1966||29 October 1966||Orbiter||Success|
|Luna 11||24 August 1966||27 August 1966||1 October 1966||Orbiter||Success|
|Surveyor 2||20 September 1966||23 September 1966||23 September 1966||Lander||Failure (crashed near Copernicus crater)|
|Luna 12||22 October 1966||25 October 1966||19 January 1967||Orbiter||Success|
|Lunar Orbiter 2||6 November 1966||10 November 1966||11 October 1967||Orbiter||Success|
|Luna 13||21 December 1966||24 December 1966||28 December 1966||Lander||Success (landed at Oceanus Procellarum)|
|Lunar Orbiter 3||5 February 1967||8 February 1967||9 October 1967||Orbiter||Partial success (picture acquisition cut short)|
|Surveyor 3||17 April 1967||20 April 1967||3 May 1967||Lander||Success (portions subsequently retrieved by Apollo 12 astronauts)|
|Lunar Orbiter 4||4 May 1967||8 May 1967||<31 October 1967||Orbiter||Partial success (picture acquisition cut short)|
|Surveyor 4||14 July 1967||17 July 1967||17 July 1967||Lander||Failure (may have exploded before reaching surface)|
|Lunar Orbiter 5||1 August 1967||5 August 1967||31 January 1968||Orbiter||Success|
|Surveyor 5||8 September 1967||11 September 1967||17 December 1967||Lander||Success|
|Surveyor 6||7 November 1967||10 November 1967||14 December 1967||Lander||Success|
|Surveyor 7||7 January 1968||10 January 1968||20 February 1968||Lander||Success|
|Luna E-6LS No.112||7 February 1968||7 February 1968||Lander||Launch failure|
|Luna 14||7 April 1968||10 April 1968||Orbiter||Success|
|Zond 5||15 September 1968||18 September 1968||21 September 1968||Flyby||Success (first spacecraft and living beings to return to Earth from lunar flyby)|
|Zond 6||10 November 1968||14 November 1968||17 November 1968||Flyby||Partial success (depressurisation lead to biologicals death, crashed due to failure in parachute)|
|Apollo 8||21 December 1968||24 December 1968||27 December 1968||Orbiter||Success (first manned lunar orbiter)|
|Luna E-8 No.201||19 February 1969||19 February 1969||Rover||Launch failure|
|Apollo 10||18 May 1969||21 May 1969||26 May 1969||Orbiter||Success (lander test in Moon orbit)|
|Luna E-8-5 No.402||14 June 1969||14 June 1969||Sample return||Launch failure|
|Luna 15||13 July 1969||21 July 1969||Sample return||Failure (crashed at Mare Crisium)|
|Apollo 11||16 July 1969||18 July 1969||24 July 1969||Orbiter||Success|
|20 July 1969||21 July 1969||Sample return||Success (21.5 kg of lunar rocks retrieved, first humans on the Moon surface)|
|Zond 7||7 August 1969||11 August 1969||14 August 1969||Flyby||Success|
|Cosmos 300||23 September 1969||23 September 1969||Sample return||Launched into wrong orbit|
|Cosmos 305||22 October 1969||22 October 1969||Sample return||Launched into wrong orbit|
|Apollo 12||14 November 1969||17 November 1969||24 November 1969||Orbiter||Success|
|19 November 1969||20 November 1969||Sample return||Success (First precise landing, recovered parts from Surveyor 3)|
|Mission (1970–1979)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Result|
|Apollo 13||11 April 1970||15 April 1970||17 April 1970||Sample return||Failure (flyby, crew returned to Earth)|
|S-IV||14 April 1970||14 April 1970||Impactor||Success (provided signal for the Apollo 12 Passive Seismic Experiment)|
|Luna E-8-5 No.405||6 February 1970||6 February 1970||Sample return||Launch failure|
|Luna 16||12 September 1970||20 September 1970||24 September 1970||Sample return||Success (first robotic lunar sample return, 101 g)|
|Zond 8||20 October 1970||24 October 1970||27 October 1970||Flyby||Success|
|Luna 17||10 November 1970||17 November 1970||17 November 1970||Lander||Success (soft-landed the Lunokhod 1)|
|Lunokhod 1||14 September 1971||Rover||Success (First lunar rover, travelled 10,54 kmd)|
|Apollo 14||31 January 1971||4 February 1971||9 February 1971||Orbiter||Success|
|5 February 1971||6 February 1971||Sample return||Success|
|Apollo 15||26 July 1971||29 July 1971||7 August 1971||Orbiter||Success|
|30 July 1971||2 August 1971||Sample return||Success (first manned Lunar Roving Vehicle)|
|PFS-1||4 August 1971||January 1973||Orbiter||Success (measured plasma, energetic particle intensities and lunar magnetic fields)|
|Luna 18||2 September 1971||11 September 1971||11 September 1971||Sample return||Failure (crashed near the edge of the Sea of Fertility)|
|Luna 19||28 September 1971||3 October 1971||3–20 October 1972||Orbiter||Success|
|Luna 20||14 February 1972||21 February 1972||25 February 1972||Sample return||Success|
|Apollo 16||16 April 1972||19 April 1972||27 April 1972||Orbiter||Success|
|21 April 1972||23 April 1972||Sample return||Success|
|PFS-2||24 April 1972||29 May 1972||Orbiter||Partial success (orbit decayed earlier than anticipated)|
|Apollo 17||7 December 1972||10 December 1972||19 December 1972||Orbiter||Success|
|11 December 1972||15 December 1972||Sample return||Success (first geologist on the Moon)|
|Luna 21||8 January 1973||15 January 1973||15 January 1973||Lander||Success (soft-landed the Lunokhod 2)|
|Lunokhod 2||3 June 1973||Rover||Success (longest rover journey on the Moon, 37 km)|
|Mariner 10||November 3, 1973||November 5, 1973||November 6, 1973||Flyby||Success (took close-up photos of Lunar North Pole on way to Venus and Mercury)|
|Luna 22||29 May 1974||2 June 1974||early November 1975||Orbiter||Success|
|Luna 23||28 October 1974||6 November 1974||9 November 1975||Sample return||Partial success (sample drilling failed)|
|Luna 24||9 August 1976||18 August 1976||22 August 1976||Sample return||Success (returned first samples where water was detected)|
|Mission (1990–1999)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Result|
|Hiten||24 January 1990||19 March 1990||10 April 1993||Orbiter/impactor||Success (first aerobraking maneuver by a deep-space probe and first Asian object on the surface of the Moon)|
|25 January 1994||19 February 1994||June 1994||Orbiter||Success|
|Lunar Prospector||7 January 1998||11 January 1998||31 July 1999||Orbiter/impactor||Success|
|Mission (2000–2009)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Result|
|SMART-1||27 September 2003||15 November 2004||3 September 2006||Orbiter/impactor||Success (first use of an ion engine to reach the Moon)|
|SELENE (Kaguya)||14 September 2007||3 October 2007||10 June 2009||Orbiter/impactor||Success|
|Chang'e 1||24 October 2007||5 November 2007||1 March 2009||Orbiter/impactor||Success|
|Chandrayaan-1||22 October 2008||12 November 2008||29 August 2009||Orbiter||Success|
|Moon Impact Probe||14 November 2008||14 November 2008||Impactor||Success|
|Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter||18 June 2009||23 June 2009||ongoing||Orbiter||Success|
|Shepherding spacecraft (LCROSS)||9 October 2009||9 October 2009||Impactor||Success (near observation of Centaur impact)|
|Centaur upper stage (LCROSS)||9 October 2009||9 October 2009||Impactor||Success|
|Mission (2010–Present)||Launch||Arrival at Moon||Termination||Objective||Result|
|Chang'e 2||1 October 2010||5 October 2010||9 June 2011||Orbiter||Success (on extended mission to asteroid 4179 Toutatis)|
|ARTEMIS||Spring 2010||April 2011||Orbiter||Success (two probes from the THEMIS mission orbiting Earth were diverted to the Moon in 2010)|
|Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (GRAIL)||10 September 2011||1 January 2012||17 December 2012||Two orbiters/impactors||Success|
|Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE)||7 September 2013||6 October 2013||18 April 2014||Orbiter||Success|
|Chang'e 3||6 December 2013||14 December 2013||ongoing||Lander||Success|
|Yutu||ongoing||Rover||Partial success (encountered operational difficulties after the first Lunar night)|
|Chang'e 5-T1||23 October 2014||27 October 2014||31 October 2014||Flyby||Success (Service module on extended mission to L2 point and Lunar orbit)|
|Manfred Memorial Moon Mission||23 October 2014||28 October 2014||11 November 2014||Flyby||Success (first commercial mission to the moon)|
|(Private) Astrobotic Technology||2017||Lander, rover||First scheduled launch of a private lander, rover and moon payload competing for various prizes including the Google Lunar X Prize.|
|Chang'e 5||2017||Sample return||Chinese lunar sample return mission consisting of a 2-stage lander and an orbiter for collection of lunar samples.|
|Chang'e 4||2018||Rover||Back-up to Chang'e 3. Re-purposed to land on the far side of the moon.|
|Chandrayaan-2||2018||Orbiter, lander, rover||Orbiter to carry five payloads, three new, while other two are improved versions of those on Chandrayaan-1. All the three orbiter, lander and rover will be designed and manufactured by India according to the latest ISRO press-release.|
|EM-1||Dec 2018||Orion||Unmanned test flight of Orion interplanetary spacecraft, which would pass the Moon on a free return trajectory.|
|SLIM||2019||Lander, rover||Lander to perform pinpoint landing with error range of 100 m (330 ft), will land near a lava tube entrance.|
|Chang'e 6||2020||Sample return||Chinese lunar sample return mission consisting of a 2-stage lander and an orbiter for collection of lunar samples.|
|Luna-Glob||2021||Orbiter||Orbiter to include astrophysics experiments, dust monitors, plasma sensors, including the LORD astronomy payload, designed to study ultra-high-energy cosmic rays.|
|EM-2||2023||Orion||Manned test flight of Orion spacecraft, which would orbit the Moon in the first mission of its kind in decades.|
|Luna-Glob||2024||Lander||Lander to explore the polar regions of the Moon, as well as testing landing technologies.|
|(Private) Shackleton Energy Company||2018||Lander, Rover||Robotic precursor exploration rover to "identify and characterize the nature, composition and locations of the optimum ice concentrations at the north and south pole craters".|
- Colonization of the Moon
- List of lunar probes
- List of artificial objects on the Moon
- Moon landing
- Robotic exploration of the Moon
- Timeline of Solar System exploration
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