Moon landing
Overview
 
A moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 on the surface of the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

. This includes both manned and unmanned (robotic) missions. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Luna 2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

 mission on 13 September 1959. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

's Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon on 20 July 1969. There have been six manned landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings.
Several nations have sent numerous spacecraft to the surface of the Moon.
Encyclopedia
A moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft
Spacecraft
A spacecraft or spaceship is a craft or machine designed for spaceflight. Spacecraft are used for a variety of purposes, including communications, earth observation, meteorology, navigation, planetary exploration and transportation of humans and cargo....

 on the surface of the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

. This includes both manned and unmanned (robotic) missions. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Luna 2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

 mission on 13 September 1959. The United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

's Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon on 20 July 1969. There have been six manned landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings.

Unmanned landings

Several nations have sent numerous spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. The Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 performed the first moon landing in 1959 by destructively crashing the Luna 2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

 spacecraft at high speed onto the lunar surface, a feat duplicated in 1962 by the Americans with Ranger 4
Ranger 4
Ranger 4 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to crashing upon the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar...

. During the time of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, such contests to be the first on the Moon with a particular capability was one of the most visible facets of the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

.

More recently other nations have crashed spacecraft on the surface of the Moon at speeds of around 5000 miles per hour, often at precise, planned locations. These have generally been end-of-life lunar orbiters that because of system degradations could no longer overcome perturbations from lunar mascons to maintain their orbit. Japan's lunar orbiter Hiten
Hiten
The Hiten Spacecraft , given the English name Celestial Maiden and known before launch as MUSES-A , part of the MUSES Program, was built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan and launched on January 24, 1990...

 crash impacted the Moon's surface on 10 April 1993. The European Space Agency
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

 performed a controlled crash impact with their orbiter SMART-1
SMART-1
SMART-1 was a Swedish-designed European Space Agency satellite that orbited around the Moon. It was launched on September 27, 2003 at 23:14 UTC from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. "SMART" stands for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology...

 on 3 September 2006. India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

's Space Agency ISRO performed a controlled crash impact with its Moon Impact Probe
Moon Impact Probe
The Moon Impact Probe developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation , India's national space agency, was a lunar probe that was released by ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 lunar remote sensing orbiter which in turn was launched, on 22 October 2008, aboard a modified version of ISRO's Polar Satellite...

 (MIP) on 14 November 2008. The MIP was notable for being an ejected probe from the Indian Chandrayaan-1 lunar orbiter and for performing remote sensing
Remote sensing
Remote sensing is the acquisition of information about an object or phenomenon, without making physical contact with the object. In modern usage, the term generally refers to the use of aerial sensor technologies to detect and classify objects on Earth by means of propagated signals Remote sensing...

 experiments during its descent to the lunar surface. Radio contact with the Chadrayaan-1 has been lost and it will also crash on the lunar surface in late 2011 or early 2012. Most recently, the Chinese lunar orbiter Chang'e 1 executed a controlled crash onto the surface of the Moon on 1 March 2009.

Only eighteen spacecraft have used braking rockets to survive their moon landings and perform scientific operations on the lunar surface – six manned, a dozen unmanned, all launched by either the Soviets or the Americans between 1966 and 1976. The USSR accomplished the first soft landings and took the first pictures from the lunar surface with ruggedized camera packages on their Luna 9
Luna 9
Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth.The automatic lunar station that achieved the...

 and Luna 13
Luna 13
-External links:* *...

 missions. The Americans followed with five unmanned Surveyor
Surveyor program
The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon...

 soft landings and six manned Apollo missions. After the American manned Apollo landings, the Soviet Union later achieved sample returns
Sample return mission
A sample return mission is a spacecraft mission with the goal of returning tangible samples from an extraterrestrial location to Earth for analysis. Sample return missions may bring back merely atoms and molecules or a deposit of complex compounds such as dirt and rocks...

 of lunar soil via the unmanned Luna 16
Luna 16
-External links:*...

, Luna 20
Luna 20
Luna 20 was the second of three successful Soviet lunar sample return missions. It was flown as part of the Luna program, also called Lunik 20, as a robotic competitor to the six successful Apollo lunar sample return missions....

 and Luna 24
Luna 24
-External links:*...

 Moon landings; their Luna 17
Luna 17
-External links:*...

 and Luna 21
Luna 21
-External links:*...

 were successful unmanned rover missions. Not included in this accounting is the Soviet Luna 23
Luna 23
Luna 23 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 23.Luna 23 was a Moon lander mission which was intended to return a lunar sample to Earth. Launched to the Moon by a Proton SL-12/D-1-e booster, the spacecraft was damaged during landing in Mare Crisium...

 mission, which successfully landed but whose scientific equipment then failed, or the American Surveyor 4
Surveyor 4
Surveyor 4 was the fourth lunar lander in the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon.*Launched July 14, 1967; landed July 17, 1967*Weight on landing: 625 lb...

, with whom all radio contact was lost only moments before a possible perfect automated soft landing.

Manned landings

A total of twelve men have landed on the Moon. This was accomplished with two US pilot-astronauts flying a Lunar Module on each of six NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 missions across a 41-month time span starting on 21 July 1969 UTC, with Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

 and Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

 on Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 (with Armstrong being first to set foot on the surface), and ending on 14 December 1972 UTC with Gene Cernan and Jack Schmitt on Apollo 17
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the American Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the...

 (with Cernan being the last to step off the lunar surface). All Apollo lunar missions had a third crew member who remained onboard the Command Module. The last three missions had a rover
Lunar rover
The Lunar Roving Vehicle or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972...

 for increased mobility.

Scientific background

The primary concerns of any moon landing are the high velocities involved that arise from the effects of gravity. In order to go to any moon, a spacecraft must first leave the gravity well
Gravity well
A gravity well or gravitational well is a conceptual model of the gravitational field surrounding a body in space. The more massive the body the deeper and more extensive the gravity well associated with it. The Sun has a far-reaching and deep gravity well. Asteroids and small moons have much...

 of the Earth. The only practical way of accomplishing this currently is with a rocket
Rocket
A rocket is a missile, spacecraft, aircraft or other vehicle which obtains thrust from a rocket engine. In all rockets, the exhaust is formed entirely from propellants carried within the rocket before use. Rocket engines work by action and reaction...

. Unlike other airborne vehicles such as balloons
Balloon (aircraft)
A balloon is a type of aircraft that remains aloft due to its buoyancy. A balloon travels by moving with the wind. It is distinct from an airship, which is a buoyant aircraft that can be propelled through the air in a controlled manner....

 or jets
Jet aircraft
A jet aircraft is an aircraft propelled by jet engines. Jet aircraft generally fly much faster than propeller-powered aircraft and at higher altitudes – as high as . At these altitudes, jet engines achieve maximum efficiency over long distances. The engines in propeller-powered aircraft...

, a rocket is the only known form of propulsion which can continue to increase its speed
Speed
In kinematics, the speed of an object is the magnitude of its velocity ; it is thus a scalar quantity. The average speed of an object in an interval of time is the distance traveled by the object divided by the duration of the interval; the instantaneous speed is the limit of the average speed as...

 at high altitudes in the vacuum
Vacuum
In everyday usage, vacuum is a volume of space that is essentially empty of matter, such that its gaseous pressure is much less than atmospheric pressure. The word comes from the Latin term for "empty". A perfect vacuum would be one with no particles in it at all, which is impossible to achieve in...

 outside the Earth's atmosphere
Atmosphere
An atmosphere is a layer of gases that may surround a material body of sufficient mass, and that is held in place by the gravity of the body. An atmosphere may be retained for a longer duration, if the gravity is high and the atmosphere's temperature is low...

.

Upon approach of the target moon, a spacecraft will be drawn ever closer to its surface at increasing speeds due to gravity. There are three possible outcomes: a crash landing where no attempt is made to slow down and the spacecraft is totally destroyed upon impact; a hard landing where the impact speed is reduced to less than 100 miles/hour or so, survivable by ruggedized machines but not humans; and a soft landing where the spacecraft decelerates precisely enough to land safely on the surface with negligible speed at contact. The first three attempts by the Americans to perform a successful hard moon landing with a ruggedized seismometer
Seismometer
Seismometers are instruments that measure motions of the ground, including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources...

 package in 1962 all failed. The Soviets first achieved the milestone of a hard lunar landing with a ruggedized camera
Camera
A camera is a device that records and stores images. These images may be still photographs or moving images such as videos or movies. The term camera comes from the camera obscura , an early mechanism for projecting images...

 in 1966, followed only months later by the first unmanned soft lunar landing by the Americans. The escape velocity
Escape velocity
In physics, escape velocity is the speed at which the kinetic energy plus the gravitational potential energy of an object is zero gravitational potential energy is negative since gravity is an attractive force and the potential is defined to be zero at infinity...

 of the target moon is roughly equivalent to the speed of a crash landing on its surface, and thus is the total velocity which must be shed from the target moon's gravitational attraction for a soft landing to occur. For Earth's Moon, this figure is 2.38 km/s. Such a change in velocity (referred to as a delta-v
Delta-v
In astrodynamics a Δv or delta-v is a scalar which takes units of speed. It is a measure of the amount of "effort" that is needed to change from one trajectory to another by making an orbital maneuver....

) is usually provided by a landing rocket, which must be carried into space by the original launch vehicle
Launch vehicle
In spaceflight, a launch vehicle or carrier rocket is a rocket used to carry a payload from the Earth's surface into outer space. A launch system includes the launch vehicle, the launch pad and other infrastructure....

 as part of the overall spacecraft. An exception is the soft moon landing on Titan
Titan (moon)
Titan , or Saturn VI, is the largest moon of Saturn, the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found....

 carried out by the Huygens probe
Huygens probe
The Huygens probe was an atmospheric entry probe carried to Saturn's moon Titan as part of the Cassini–Huygens mission. The probe was supplied by the European Space Agency and named after the Dutch 17th century astronomer Christiaan Huygens....

 in 2005. As the only moon with an atmosphere, landings on Titan may be accomplished by using atmospheric entry
Atmospheric reentry
Atmospheric entry is the movement of human-made or natural objects as they enter the atmosphere of a celestial body from outer space—in the case of Earth from an altitude above the Kármán Line,...

 techniques that are generally lighter in weight than a rocket with equivalent capability.

The Soviets succeeded in making the first crash landing on the Moon in 1959. Crash landings may occur because of malfunctions in a spacecraft, or they can be deliberately arranged for vehicles which do not have an on board landing rocket. There have been many such moon crashes, often with their flight path controlled to impact at precise locations on the lunar surface. For example, during the Apollo program the S-IVB
S-IVB
The S-IVB was built by the Douglas Aircraft Company and served as the third stage on the Saturn V and second stage on the Saturn IB. It had one J-2 engine...

 third stage of the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 moon rocket as well as the spent ascent stage of the lunar module were deliberately crashed on the Moon several times to provide impacts registering as a moonquake on seismometers that had been left on the lunar surface. Such crashes were instrumental in mapping the internal structure of the Moon
Internal structure of the Moon
Having a mean density of 3,346.4 kg/m³, the Moon is a differentiated body, being composed of a geochemically distinct crust, mantle, and core. This structure is believed to have resulted from the fractional crystallization of a magma ocean shortly after its formation about 4.5 billion years ago...

.

If a return to Earth is desired after a moon landing is accomplished, the escape velocities of the Moon and Earth must again be overcome for the spacecraft to come to rest on the surface of the Earth. Rockets must be used to leave the Moon and return to space. Upon reaching Earth, atmospheric entry techniques are used to absorb the kinetic energy
Kinetic energy
The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

 of a returning spacecraft and reduce its speed for safe landing. These functions greatly complicate a moon landing mission and lead to many additional operational considerations. Any moon departure rocket must first be carried to the Moon's surface by a moon landing rocket, increasing the latter's required size. The moon departure rocket, larger moon landing rocket and any Earth atmosphere entry equipment such as heat shields and parachute
Parachute
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag, or in the case of ram-air parachutes, aerodynamic lift. Parachutes are usually made out of light, strong cloth, originally silk, now most commonly nylon...

s must in turn be lifted by the original launch vehicle, greatly increasing its size by a significant and almost prohibitive degree. This necessitates optimizing the sizing of stages
Multistage rocket
A multistage rocket is a rocket that usestwo or more stages, each of which contains its own engines and propellant. A tandem or serial stage is mounted on top of another stage; a parallel stage is attached alongside another stage. The result is effectively two or more rockets stacked on top of or...

 in the launch vehicle as well as consideration of using space rendezvous
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 between multiple spacecraft.

Political background

The intense and expensive effort devoted in the 1960s to achieving first an unmanned and then ultimately a manned moon landing can only be understood in the political context of its historical era. World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 with its 60 million dead, half Soviets, was fresh in the memory of all adults. In the 1940s, the war had introduced many new and deadly innovations including blitzkrieg
Blitzkrieg
For other uses of the word, see: Blitzkrieg Blitzkrieg is an anglicized word describing all-motorised force concentration of tanks, infantry, artillery, combat engineers and air power, concentrating overwhelming force at high speed to break through enemy lines, and, once the lines are broken,...

-style surprise attacks used in the invasion of Poland and in the attack on Pearl Harbor
Attack on Pearl Harbor
The attack on Pearl Harbor was a surprise military strike conducted by the Imperial Japanese Navy against the United States naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on the morning of December 7, 1941...

; the V-2 rocket
V-2 rocket
The V-2 rocket , technical name Aggregat-4 , was a ballistic missile that was developed at the beginning of the Second World War in Germany, specifically targeted at London and later Antwerp. The liquid-propellant rocket was the world's first long-range combat-ballistic missile and first known...

, a ballistic missile
Ballistic missile
A ballistic missile is a missile that follows a sub-orbital ballistic flightpath with the objective of delivering one or more warheads to a predetermined target. The missile is only guided during the relatively brief initial powered phase of flight and its course is subsequently governed by the...

 which killed thousands in attacks on London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 and Antwerp; and the atom bomb, which killed hundreds of thousands in the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

. In the 1950s, tensions mounted between the two ideologically opposed superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s of the United States and the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 that had emerged as victors in the conflict, particularly after the development by both countries of the hydrogen bomb.

On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched
Rocket launch
A rocket launch is the takeoff phase of the flight of a rocket. Launches for orbital spaceflights, or launches into interplanetary space, are usually from a fixed location on the ground, but may also be from a floating platform such as the San Marco platform, or the Sea Launch launch...

 Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1
Sputnik 1 ) was the first artificial satellite to be put into Earth's orbit. It was launched into an elliptical low Earth orbit by the Soviet Union on 4 October 1957. The unanticipated announcement of Sputnik 1s success precipitated the Sputnik crisis in the United States and ignited the Space...

as the first artificial satellite to orbit the Earth and so initiated the Space Age
Space Age
The Space Age is a time period encompassing the activities related to the Space Race, space exploration, space technology, and the cultural developments influenced by these events. The Space Age is generally considered to have begun with Sputnik...

. This unexpected event was a source of pride to the Soviets and shock to the Americans, who could now potentially be surprise attacked by nuclear-tipped Soviet rockets in under 30 minutes. Also, the steady beeping of the radio beacon aboard Sputnik 1 as it passed overhead every 96 minutes was widely viewed on both sides as effective propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 to Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

 countries demonstrating the technological superiority of the Soviet political system
Political system
A political system is a system of politics and government. It is usually compared to the legal system, economic system, cultural system, and other social systems...

 compared to the American one. This perception was reinforced by a string of subsequent rapid-fire Soviet space achievements. In 1959, the R-7 rocket was used to launch the first escape from Earth's gravity into a solar orbit, the first crash impact onto the surface of the Moon and the first photography
Photography
Photography is the art, science and practice of creating durable images by recording light or other electromagnetic radiation, either electronically by means of an image sensor or chemically by means of a light-sensitive material such as photographic film...

 of the never-before-seen far side of the Moon
Far side of the Moon
The far side of the Moon is the lunar hemisphere that is permanently turned away, and is not visible from the surface of the Earth. The far hemisphere was first photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 probe in 1959, and was first directly observed by human eyes when the Apollo 8 mission orbited the Moon...

. These were the Luna 1
Luna 1
Luna 1 , first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.While traveling through the outer Van Allen...

, Luna 2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

 and Luna 3
Luna 3
The Soviet space probe Luna 3 of 1959 was the third space probe to be sent to the neighborhood of the Moon, and this mission was an early feat in the spaceborne exploration of outer space...

 spacecraft.

The American response to these Soviet achievements was to greatly accelerate previously existing military space and missile projects and to create a civilian space agency, NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

. Military efforts were initiated to develop and produce mass quantities of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that would bridge the so-called missile gap
Missile gap
The missile gap was the term used in the United States for the perceived disparity between the number and power of the weapons in the U.S.S.R. and U.S. ballistic missile arsenals during the Cold War. The gap only existed in exaggerated estimates made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and United...

 and enable a policy of deterrence
Deterrence theory
Deterrence theory gained increased prominence as a military strategy during the Cold War with regard to the use of nuclear weapons, and features prominently in current United States foreign policy regarding the development of nuclear technology in North Korea and Iran. Deterrence theory however was...

 to nuclear war
Nuclear warfare
Nuclear warfare, or atomic warfare, is a military conflict or political strategy in which nuclear weaponry is detonated on an opponent. Compared to conventional warfare, nuclear warfare can be vastly more destructive in range and extent of damage...

 with the Soviets known as Mutually Assured Destruction or MAD. These newly developed missile
Missile
Though a missile may be any thrown or launched object, it colloquially almost always refers to a self-propelled guided weapon system.-Etymology:The word missile comes from the Latin verb mittere, meaning "to send"...

s were made available to civilians of NASA for various projects (which would have the added benefit of demonstrating the payload, guidance accuracy and reliabilities of American ICBMs to the Soviets). While NASA stressed peaceful and scientific uses for these rockets, their use in various lunar exploration efforts also had secondary goal of realistic, goal-oriented testing of the missiles themselves and development of associated infrastructure, just as the Soviets were doing with their R-7. The tight schedules and lofty goals selected by NASA for lunar exploration also had an undeniable element of generating counter-propaganda to show to other countries that American technological prowess was the equal and even superior to that of the Soviets.

Early Soviet unmanned lunar missions (1958–1966)

After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991 historical records were released to allow the true accounting of Soviet lunar efforts. Unlike the American tradition of assigning a particular mission name in advance of launch, the Soviets assigned a public "Luna
Luna programme
The Luna programme , occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration...

" mission number only if a launch resulted in a spacecraft going beyond Earth orbit. The policy had the effect of hiding Soviet Moon picture failures from public view. If the attempt failed in Earth orbit before departing for the Moon, it was frequently (but not always) given a "Sputnik" or "Cosmos
Cosmos (satellite)
Kosmos is a designation given to a large number of satellites operated by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. Kosmos 1, the first spacecraft to be given a Kosmos designation, was launched on March 16, 1962....

" earth-orbit mission number to hide its purpose. Launch explosions were not acknowledged at all.
U.S.S.R. Mission Mass (kg) Launch vehicle Launched Mission goal Mission result
Semyorka – 8K72 23 September 1958 Lunar Impact Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 93 sec
Semyorka – 8K72 12 October 1958 Lunar Impact Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 104 sec
Semyorka – 8K72 4 December 1958 Lunar Impact Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 254 sec
Luna-1
Luna 1
Luna 1 , first known as First Cosmic Ship, then known as Mechta was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon and the first of the Luna program of Soviet automatic interplanetary stations successfully launched in the direction of the Moon.While traveling through the outer Van Allen...

361 Semyorka – 8K72 2 January 1959 Lunar Impact Partial success – first spacecraft to reach escape velocity, lunar flyby, solar orbit; Missed the Moon
Semyorka – 8K72 18 June 1959 Lunar Impact Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 153 sec
Luna-2
Luna 2
Luna 2 was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon...

390 Semyorka – 8K72 12 September 1959 Lunar Impact Success – first lunar impact
Luna-3
Luna 3
The Soviet space probe Luna 3 of 1959 was the third space probe to be sent to the neighborhood of the Moon, and this mission was an early feat in the spaceborne exploration of outer space...

270 Semyorka – 8K72 4 October 1959 Lunar Flyby Success – first photos of lunar far side
Semyorka – 8K72 15 April 1960 Lunar Flyby Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Semyorka – 8K72 16 April 1960 Lunar Flyby Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 1 sec
Sputnik-25 Semyorka – 8K78 4 January 1963 Moon landing Failure – stranded in low Earth orbit
Semyorka – 8K78 3 February 1963 Moon landing Failure – booster malfunction at T+ 105 sec
Luna-4
Luna 4
Luna 4 was the USSR's first successful spacecraft of their "second generation" Luna program. The spacecraft, rather than being sent on a straight trajectory toward the Moon, was placed first in a low Earth orbit and then the rocket stage reignited to send it on a curving path towards the...

1422 Semyorka – 8K78 2 April 1963 Moon landing Failure – lunar flyby at 5000 miles (8,046.7 km)
Semyorka – 8K78 21 March 1964 Moon landing Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Semyorka – 8K78 20 April 1964 Moon landing Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Cosmos
Cosmos (satellite)
Kosmos is a designation given to a large number of satellites operated by the Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. Kosmos 1, the first spacecraft to be given a Kosmos designation, was launched on March 16, 1962....

-60
Semyorka – 8K78 12 March 1965 Moon landing Failure – stranded in low Earth orbit
Semyorka – 8K78 10 April 1965 Moon landing Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Luna-5
Luna 5
Luna 5 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 5. It was designed to continue investigations of a lunar soft landing. The retrorocket system failed, and the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface at the Sea of Clouds....

1475 Semyorka – 8K78 9 May 1965 Moon landing Failure – lunar impact
Luna-6
Luna 6
Luna 6 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 6. Luna 6 was intended to travel to the Moon, but, because a mid-course correction failed, it missed the Moon by 159,612.8 km....

1440 Semyorka – 8K78 8 June 1965 Moon landing Failure – lunar flyby at 100000 miles (160,934 km)
Luna-7
Luna 7
Luna 7 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Luna program, also called Lunik 7. The Luna 7 spacecraft was intended to achieve a soft landing on the Moon...

1504 Semyorka – 8K78 4 October 1965 Moon landing Failure – lunar impact
Luna-8
Luna 8
Luna 8 , also known as Lunik 8, was a lunar space probe of the Luna program. It was launched with the objective of achieving a soft landing on the Moon. However, its retrorocket firing occurred too late, and suffered a hard impact on the lunar surface on the Oceanus Procellarum...

1550 Semyorka – 8K78 3 December 1965 Moon landing Failure – lunar impact during landing attempt

Early American unmanned lunar missions (1958–1965)

In contrast to Soviet lunar exploration triumphs in 1959, success eluded initial American efforts to reach the Moon with the Pioneer
Pioneer program
The Pioneer program is a series of United States unmanned space missions that was designed for planetary exploration. There were a number of such missions in the program, but the most notable were Pioneer 10 and Pioneer 11, which explored the outer planets and left the solar system...

 and Ranger program
Ranger program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, returning those images until they were destroyed...

s. Fifteen consecutive U.S. unmanned lunar missions over a six year period from 1958 to 1964 all failed their primary photographic missions; however, Rangers 4 and 6 successfully repeated the Soviet lunar impacts as part of their secondary missions. Failures included three American attempts in 1962 to hard land small seismometer packages released by the main Ranger spacecraft. These surface packages were to use retrorockets to survive landing, unlike the parent vehicle, which was designed to deliberately crash onto the surface. The final three Ranger probes performed successful high altitude lunar reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

  photography missions during intentional crash impacts between 2.62 km/s
U.S. Mission Mass (kg) Launch vehicle Launched Mission goal Mission result
Pioneer 0
Pioneer 0
Pioneer 0 was a failed United States space probe that was designed to go into orbit around the Moon, carrying a television camera, a micrometeorite detector and a magnetometer, as part of the first International Geophysical Year science payload...

38 Thor-Able
Thor-Able
The Thor-Able was an American expendable launch system and sounding rocket used for a series of re-entry vehicle tests and satellite launches between 1958 and 1960. It was a two stage rocket, consisting of a Thor IRBM as a first stage, and a Vanguard-derived Able second stage. On some flights, an...

17 August 1958 Lunar orbit Failure – first stage explosion; destroyed
Pioneer 1
Pioneer 1
On October 11, 1958, Pioneer 1 became the first spacecraft launched by NASA, the newly formed space agency of the United States. The flight was the second and most successful of the three Thor-Able space probes.- Spacecraft design :...

34 Thor-Able 11 October 1958 Lunar orbit Failure – software error; reentry
Pioneer 2
Pioneer 2
Pioneer 2 was the last of the three project Able space probes designed to probe lunar and cislunar space. Shortly after launch at 07:30:00 UTC on November 8, 1958, the third stage of the launch vehicle separated but failed to ignite, and Pioneer 2 did not achieve its intended lunar orbit...

39 Thor-Able 8 November 1958 Lunar orbit Failure – third stage misfire; reentry
Pioneer 3
Pioneer 3
Pioneer 3 was a spin stabilized spacecraft launched at 05:45:12 UTC on 6 December 1958 by the U.S. Army Ballistic Missile Agency in conjunction with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration...

6 Juno 6 December 1958 Lunar flyby Failure – first stage misfire, reentry
Pioneer 4
Pioneer 4
Pioneer 4 was a spin-stabilized spacecraft launched as part of the Pioneer program on a lunar flyby trajectory and into a heliocentric orbit making it the first U.S. probe to escape from the Earth's gravity. It carried a payload similar to Pioneer 3: a lunar radiation environment experiment using a...

6 Juno 3 March 1959 Lunar flyby Partial success – first US craft to reach escape velocity, lunar flyby too far to shoot photos due to targeting error; solar orbit
Pioneer P-1
Pioneer P-1
Pioneer P-1 was a failed mission in the Pioneer program. The spacecraft was a 1 meter diameter sphere, with a propulsion module. It was launched on September 24, 1959 on an Atlas-C Able launcher. It was to carry a TV camera and a magnetic field sensor. It was to be spin-stabilized, and was known as...

168 Atlas-Able 24 September 1959 Lunar orbit Failure – pad explosion; destroyed
Pioneer P-3
Pioneer P-3
Pioneer P-3 was intended to be a lunar orbiter probe, but the mission failed shortly after launch. The objectives were to place a highly instrumented probe in lunar orbit, to investigate the environment between the Earth and Moon, and to develop technology for controlling and maneuvering...

168 Atlas-Able 29 November 1959 Lunar orbit Failure – payload shroud; destroyed
Pioneer P-30
Pioneer P-30
Pioneer P-30 was intended to be a lunar orbiter probe, but the mission failed shortly after launch on September 25, 1960. The objectives were to place a highly instrumented probe in lunar orbit, to investigate the environment between the Earth and Moon, and to develop technology for controlling...

175 Atlas-Able 25 September 1960 Lunar orbit Failure – second stage anomaly; reentry
Pioneer P-31
Pioneer P-31
Pioneer P-31 was intended to be a lunar orbiter probe, but the mission failed shortly after launch. The objectives were to place a highly instrumented probe in lunar orbit, to investigate the environment between the Earth and Moon, and to develop technology for controlling and maneuvering...

175 Atlas-Able 15 December 1960 Lunar orbit Failure – first stage explosion; destroyed
Ranger 1
Ranger 1
Ranger 1 was a spacecraft in the Ranger program of unmanned space missions. Its primary mission was to test the performance of those functions and parts necessary for carrying out subsequent lunar and planetary missions; a secondary objective was to study the nature of particles and fields in...

306 Atlas – Agena 23 August 1961 Prototype test Failure – upper stage anomaly; reentry
Ranger 2
Ranger 2
Ranger 2 was a flight test of the Ranger spacecraft system of the NASA Ranger program designed for future lunar and interplanetary missions. Ranger 2 was designed to test various systems for future exploration and to conduct scientific observations of cosmic rays, magnetic fields, radiation, dust...

304 Atlas – Agena 18 November 1961 Prototype test Failure – upper stage anomaly; reentry
Ranger 3
Ranger 3
Ranger 3 is a spacecraft of the Ranger program that was launched to study the Moon on January 26, 1962. The space probe was designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting on the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer...

330 Atlas – Agena 26 January 1962 Moon Landing Failure – booster guidance; solar orbit
Ranger 4
Ranger 4
Ranger 4 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to crashing upon the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar...

331 Atlas – Agena 23 April 1962 Moon Landing Partial success – first U.S. spacecraft to reach another celestial body; crash impact – no photos returned
Ranger 5
Ranger 5
Ranger 5 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting on the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar...

342 Atlas – Agena 18 October 1962 Moon Landing Failure – spacecraft power; solar orbit
Ranger 6
Ranger 6
Ranger 6 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, 2 wide angle and 4 narrow angle to accomplish these objectives...

367 Atlas – Agena 30 January 1964 Lunar impact Failure – spacecraft camera; crash impact
Ranger 7
Ranger 7
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...

367 Atlas – Agena 28 July 1964 Lunar impact Success – returned 4308 photos, crash impact
Ranger 8
Ranger 8
Ranger 8 was a spacecraft 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, two wide angle and four narrow angle to accomplish these...

367 Atlas – Agena 17 February 1965 Lunar impact Success – returned 7137 photos, crash impact
Ranger 9
Ranger 9
Ranger 9 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, 2 wide angle and 4 narrow angle to accomplish these objectives...

367 Atlas – Agena 21 March 1965 Lunar impact Success – returned 5814 photos, crash impact

Pioneer missions

Three different designs of Pioneer lunar probes were flown on three different modified ICBMs. Those flown on the Thor
PGM-17 Thor
Thor was the first operational ballistic missile of the U.S. Air Force . Named after the Norse god of thunder, it was deployed in the United Kingdom between 1959 and September 1963 as an intermediate range ballistic missile with thermonuclear warheads. Thor was in height and in diameter. It was...

 booster modified with an Able upper stage carried an infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 image scanning television
Television
Television is a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome or colored, with accompanying sound...

 system with a resolution
Image resolution
Image resolution is an umbrella term that describes the detail an image holds. The term applies to raster digital images, film images, and other types of images. Higher resolution means more image detail....

 of 1 milliradian to study the Moon's surface, an ionization chamber
Ionization chamber
The ionization chamber is the simplest of all gas-filled radiation detectors, and is used for the detection or measurement of ionizing radiation...

 to measure radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

 in space, a diaphragm/microphone assembly to detect micrometeorites, a magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

, and temperature-variable resistors to monitor spacecraft internal thermal conditions. The first, a mission managed by the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

, exploded during launch; all subsequent Pioneer lunar flights had NASA as the lead management organization. The next two returned to Earth and burned up upon reentry into the atmosphere after achieved maximum altitudes of around 70,000 and 900 miles (1,448.4 km), far short of the roughly 250000 miles (402,335 km) required to reach the vicinity of the Moon.

NASA then collaborated with the United States Army
United States Army
The United States Army is the main branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for land-based military operations. It is the largest and oldest established branch of the U.S. military, and is one of seven U.S. uniformed services...

's Ballistic Missile Agency
Army Ballistic Missile Agency
The Army Ballistic Missile Agency was the agency formed to develop the US Army's first intermediate range ballistic missile. It was established at Redstone Arsenal on February 1, 1956 and commanded by Major General John B...

 to fly two extremely small cone-shaped probes on the Juno
Juno (spacecraft)
Juno is a NASA New Frontiers mission to the planet Jupiter. Juno was launched from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 5, 2011. The spacecraft is to be placed in a polar orbit to study the planet's composition, gravity field, magnetic field, and polar magnetosphere...

 ICBM, carrying only photocells which would be triggered by the light of the Moon and a lunar radiation environment experiment using a Geiger-Müller tube
Geiger-Müller tube
A Geiger–Müller tube is the sensing element of a Geiger counter instrument that can detect a single particle of ionizing radiation, and typically produce an audible click for each. It was named for Hans Geiger who invented the device in 1908, and Walther Müller who collaborated with Geiger in...

 detector. The first of these reached an altitude of only around 64000 miles (102,997.8 km), serendipitously gathering data that established the presence of the Van Allen radiation belts before reentering Earth's atmosphere. The second passed by the Moon at a distance of more than 37000 miles (59,545.6 km), twice as far as planned and too far away to trigger either of the on-board scientific instruments, yet still becoming the first American spacecraft to reach a solar orbit.

The final Pioneer lunar probe design consisted of four "paddlewheel" solar panels
Photovoltaic module
A solar panel is a packaged, connected assembly of solar cells, also known as photovoltaic cells...

 extending from a one-meter diameter spherical spin-stabilized
Spin-stabilized satellite
A spin-stabilized satellite is a satellite which has the motion of one axis held fixed by spinning the satellite around that axis, using the gyroscopic effect.The attitude of a satellite or any rigid body is its orientation in space...

 spacecraft body that was equipped to take images of the lunar surface with a television-like system, estimate the Moon's mass and topography of the poles
Peak of Eternal Light
Peak of Eternal Light describes a point on a body within the Solar System which is eternally bathed in sunlight. This is due to both the bodies' rotation and the point's altitude...

, record the distribution and velocity of micrometeorites, study radiation, measure magnetic fields, detect low frequency electromagnetic waves
Alfvén wave
An Alfvén wave, named after Hannes Alfvén, is a type of magnetohydrodynamic wave.-Definition:An Alfvén wave in a plasma is a low-frequency travelling oscillation of the ions and the magnetic field...

 in space and use a sophisticated integrated propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion
Spacecraft propulsion is any method used to accelerate spacecraft and artificial satellites. There are many different methods. Each method has drawbacks and advantages, and spacecraft propulsion is an active area of research. However, most spacecraft today are propelled by forcing a gas from the...

 system for maneuvering and orbit insertion as well. None of the four spacecraft built in this series of probes survived launch on its Atlas
Atlas (missile)
The SM-65 Atlas was the first intercontinental ballistic missile developed and deployed by the United States. It was built for the U.S. Air Force by Convair Division of General Dynamics at the Kearny Mesa assembly plant north of San Diego, California...

 ICBM outfitted with an Able upper stage.

Following the unsuccessful Atlas-Able Pioneer probes, NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Jet Propulsion Laboratory is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. The facility is headquartered in the city of Pasadena on the border of La Cañada Flintridge and Pasadena...

 embarked upon an unmanned spacecraft development program whose modular design could be used to support both lunar and interplanetary exploration missions. The interplanetary versions were known as Mariners
Mariner program
The Mariner program was a program conducted by the American space agency NASA that launched a series of robotic interplanetary probes designed to investigate Mars, Venus and Mercury from 1963 to 1973...

; lunar versions were Rangers
Ranger program
The Ranger program was a series of unmanned space missions by the United States in the 1960s whose objective was to obtain the first close-up images of the surface of the Moon. The Ranger spacecraft were designed to take images of the lunar surface, returning those images until they were destroyed...

. JPL envisioned three versions of the Ranger lunar probes: Block I prototypes, which would carry various radiation detectors in test flights to a very high Earth orbit that came nowhere near the Moon; Block II, which would try to accomplish the first Moon landing by hard landing a seismometer package; and Block III, which would crash onto the lunar surface without any braking rockets while taking very high resolution wide-area photographs of the Moon during their descent.

Ranger missions

The Ranger 1 and 2 Block I missions were virtually identical. Spacecraft experiments included a Lyman-alpha
H-alpha
H-alpha is a specific red visible spectral line created by hydrogen with a wavelength of 656.28 nm, which occurs when a hydrogen electron falls from its third to second lowest energy level...

 telescope, a Rubidium-vapor
Rubidium
Rubidium is a chemical element with the symbol Rb and atomic number 37. Rubidium is a soft, silvery-white metallic element of the alkali metal group. Its atomic mass is 85.4678. Elemental rubidium is highly reactive, with properties similar to those of other elements in group 1, such as very rapid...

 magnetometer
Magnetometer
A magnetometer is a measuring instrument used to measure the strength or direction of a magnetic field either produced in the laboratory or existing in nature...

, electrostatic analyzers, medium-energy-range particle detector
Particle detector
In experimental and applied particle physics, nuclear physics, and nuclear engineering, a particle detector, also known as a radiation detector, is a device used to detect, track, and/or identify high-energy particles, such as those produced by nuclear decay, cosmic radiation, or reactions in a...

s, two triple coincidence telescopes, a cosmic-ray integrating ionization chamber
Ionization chamber
The ionization chamber is the simplest of all gas-filled radiation detectors, and is used for the detection or measurement of ionizing radiation...

, cosmic dust
Cosmic dust
Cosmic dust is a type of dust composed of particles in space which are a few molecules to 0.1 µm in size. Cosmic dust can be further distinguished by its astronomical location; for example: intergalactic dust, interstellar dust, interplanetary dust and circumplanetary dust .In our own Solar...

 detectors, and scintillation counter
Scintillation counter
A scintillation counter measures ionizing radiation. The sensor, called a scintillator, consists of a transparent crystal, usually phosphor, plastic , or organic liquid that fluoresces when struck by ionizing radiation. A sensitive photomultiplier tube measures the light from the crystal...

s. The goal was to place these Block I spacecraft in a very high Earth orbit with an apogee of 110000 kilometres (68,351 mi) and a perigee
Perigee
Perigee is the point at which an object makes its closest approach to the Earth.. Often the term is used in a broader sense to define the point in an orbit where the orbiting body is closest to the body it orbits. The opposite is the apogee, the farthest or highest point.The Greek prefix "peri"...

 of 60000 kilometres (37,282.4 mi). From that vantage point, scientists could make direct measurements of the magnetosphere
Magnetosphere
A magnetosphere is formed when a stream of charged particles, such as the solar wind, interacts with and is deflected by the intrinsic magnetic field of a planet or similar body. Earth is surrounded by a magnetosphere, as are the other planets with intrinsic magnetic fields: Mercury, Jupiter,...

 over a period of many months while engineers perfected new methods to routinely track and communicate with spacecraft over such large distances. Such practice was deemed vital to be assured of capturing high-bandwidth television transmissions from the Moon during a one-shot fifteen minute time window in subsequent Block II and Block III lunar descents. Both Block I missions suffered failures of the new Agena upper stage and never left low earth parking orbit
Parking orbit
A parking orbit is a temporary orbit used during the launch of a satellite or other space probe. A launch vehicle boosts into the parking orbit, then coasts for a while, then fires again to enter the final desired trajectory...

 after launch; both burned up upon reentry after only a few days.
The first attempts to perform a Moon landing took place in 1962 during the Rangers 3, 4 and 5 missions flown by the United States. All three Block II missions basic vehicles were 3.1 m high and consisted of a lunar capsule covered with a balsa wood impact-limiter, 650 mm in diameter, a mono-propellant mid-course motor, a retrorocket with a thrust of 5080 pound-force (22.6 kN), and a gold- and chrome-plated hexagonal base 1.5 m in diameter. This lander (code-named Tonto) was designed to provide impact cushioning using an exterior blanket of crushable balsa wood and an interior filled with incompressible liquid freon. A 42 kg (56 pounds) 30 centimetre (0.984251968503937 ft) metal payload sphere floated and was free to rotate in a liquid freon reservoir contained in the landing sphere. This payload sphere contained six silver-cadmium
Cadmium
Cadmium is a chemical element with the symbol Cd and atomic number 48. This soft, bluish-white metal is chemically similar to the two other stable metals in group 12, zinc and mercury. Similar to zinc, it prefers oxidation state +2 in most of its compounds and similar to mercury it shows a low...

 batteries to power a fifty-milliwatt radio transmitter, a temperature sensitive voltage controlled oscillator to measure lunar surface temperatures, and a seismometer that was designed with sensitivity high enough to detect the impact of a five pound meteorite on the opposite side of the Moon. Weight was distributed in the payload sphere so it would rotate in its liquid blanket to place the seismometer into an upright and operational position no matter what the final resting orientation of the external landing sphere. After landing plugs were to be opened allowing the freon to evaporate and the payload sphere to settle into upright contact with the landing sphere. The batteries were sized to allow up to three months of operation for the payload sphere. Various mission constraints limited the landing site to Oceanus Procellarum on the lunar equator, which the lander ideally would reach 66 hours after launch.

No cameras were carried by the Ranger landers, and no pictures were to be captured from the lunar surface during the mission. Instead, the 3.1 metres (10.2 ft) Ranger Block II mother ship carried a 200-scan-line television camera which was to capture images during the free-fall descent to the lunar surface. The camera was designed to transmit a picture every 10 seconds. Seconds before impact, at 5 and 0.6 km (3.1 and 0.372823641989884 mi) above the lunar surface, the Ranger mother ships took picture (which may be viewed here. Other instruments gathering data before the mother ship crashed onto the Moon were a gamma ray spectrometer to measure overall lunar chemical composition and a radar altimeter. The radar altimeter was to give a signal ejecting the landing capsule and its solid-fueled braking rocket overboard from the Block II mother ship. The braking rocket was to slow and the landing sphere to a dead stop at 330 metres (1,082.7 ft) above the surface and separate, allowing the landing sphere to free fall once more and hit the surface.

On Ranger 3, failure of the Atlas guidance system and a software error aboard the Agena upper stage combined to put the spacecraft on a course that would miss the Moon. Attempts to salvage lunar photography during a flyby of the Moon were thwarted by in-flight failure of the onboard flight computer. This was probably because of prior heat sterilization
Sterilization (microbiology)
Sterilization is a term referring to any process that eliminates or kills all forms of microbial life, including transmissible agents present on a surface, contained in a fluid, in medication, or in a compound such as biological culture media...

 of the spacecraft by keeping it above the boiling
Boiling
Boiling is the rapid vaporization of a liquid, which occurs when a liquid is heated to its boiling point, the temperature at which the vapor pressure of the liquid is equal to the pressure exerted on the liquid by the surrounding environmental pressure. While below the boiling point a liquid...

 point of water for 24 hours on the ground, to protect the Moon from being contaminated by Earth organisms. Heat sterilization was also blamed for subsequent in-flight failures of the spacecraft computer on Ranger 4 and the power subsystem on Ranger 5. Only Ranger 4 reached the Moon in an uncontrolled crash impact on the far side of the Moon.

Heat sterilization was discontinued for the final four Block III Ranger probes. These replaced the Block II landing capsule and its retrorocket with a heavier, more capable television system to support landing site selection for upcoming Apollo manned Moon landing missions. Six cameras were designed to take thousands of high-altitude photographs in the final twenty minute period before crashing on the lunar surface. Camera resolution was 1,132 scan lines, far higher than the 525 lines found in a typical American 1964 home television. While Ranger 6
Ranger 6
Ranger 6 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, 2 wide angle and 4 narrow angle to accomplish these objectives...

 suffered a failure of this camera system and returned no photographs despite an otherwise successful flight, the subsequent Ranger 7
Ranger 7
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...

 mission to Mare Cognitum was a complete success. Breaking the six-year string of failures in American attempts to photograph the Moon at close range, the Ranger 7
Ranger 7
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...

 mission was viewed as a national turning point and instrumental in allowing the key 1965 NASA budget appropriation to pass through the United States Congress
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 intact without a reduction in funds for the Apollo manned Moon landing program. Subsequent successes with Ranger 8
Ranger 8
Ranger 8 was a spacecraft 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, two wide angle and four narrow angle to accomplish these...

 and Ranger 9
Ranger 9
Ranger 9 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. The spacecraft carried six television vidicon cameras, 2 wide angle and 4 narrow angle to accomplish these objectives...

 further buoyed American hopes.

Soviet unmanned soft landings (1966–1976)

U.S.S.R. Mission Mass (kg) Booster Launched Mission goal Mission result Landing zone Lat
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

/Lon
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

Luna-9
Luna 9
Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth.The automatic lunar station that achieved the...

1580 Semyorka – 8K78 31 January 1966 Moon landing Success – first lunar soft landing, numerous photos Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum is a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the near side of the Earth's Moon. Its name derives from the old superstition that its appearance during the second quarter heralded bad weather...

7.13°N 64.37°W
Luna-13
Luna 13
-External links:* *...

1580 Semyorka – 8K78 21 December 1966 Moon landing Success – second lunar soft landing, numerous photos Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum is a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the near side of the Earth's Moon. Its name derives from the old superstition that its appearance during the second quarter heralded bad weather...

18°52'N 62°3'W
Proton
Proton rocket
Proton is an expendable launch system used for both commercial and Russian government space launches. The first Proton rocket was launched in 1965 and the launch system is still in use as of 2011, which makes it one of the most successful heavy boosters in the history of spaceflight...

19 February 1969 Lunar rover Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Proton 14 June 1969 Sample return Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Luna-15
Luna 15
-External links:*...

5,700 Proton 13 July 1969 Sample return Failure – lunar crash impact Mare Crisium
Mare Crisium
Mare Crisium is a lunar mare located in the Moon's Crisium basin, just northeast of Mare Tranquillitatis. This basin is of the Pre-Imbrian period, 4.55 to 3.85 billion years ago. This mare is in diameter, and 176,000 km2 in area. It has a very flat floor, with a ring of wrinkled ridges...

unknown
Cosmos-300 Proton 23 September 1969 Sample return Failure – stranded in low Earth orbit
Cosmos-305 Proton 22 October 1969 Sample return Failure – stranded in low Earth orbit
Proton 6 February 1970 Sample return Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Luna-16
Luna 16
-External links:*...

5,600 Proton 12 September 1970 Sample return Success – returned 0.10 kg of Moon soil back to Earth Mare Fecunditatis
Mare Fecunditatis
Mare Fecunditatis is a lunar mare which is 840 km in diameter. The Fecuditatis basin formed in the Pre-Nectarian epoch, while the basin material surrounding the mare is of the...

000.68S 056.30E
Luna-17
Luna 17
-External links:*...

5,700 Proton 10 November 1970 Lunar rover SuccessLunokhod-1
Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1 was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod program. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17...

 rover traveled 10.5 km across lunar surface
Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium
Mare Imbrium, Latin for "Sea of Showers" or "Sea of Rains", is a vast lunar mare filling a basin on Earth's Moon and one of the larger craters in the Solar System. Mare Imbrium was created when lava flooded the giant crater formed when a very large object hit the Moon long ago...

038.28N 325.00E
Luna-18
Luna 18
Luna 18 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 18.Luna 18 was placed in an earth parking orbit after it was launched and was then sent towards the Moon. On September 7, 1971, it entered lunar orbit. The spacecraft completed 85 communications sessions and 54 lunar...

5,750 Proton 2 September 1971 Sample return Failure – lunar crash impact Mare Fecunditatis 003.57N 056.50E
Luna-20
Luna 20
Luna 20 was the second of three successful Soviet lunar sample return missions. It was flown as part of the Luna program, also called Lunik 20, as a robotic competitor to the six successful Apollo lunar sample return missions....

5,727 Proton 14 February 1972 Sample return Success – returned 0.05 kg of Moon soil back to Earth Mare Fecunditatis 003.57N 056.50E
Luna-21
Luna 21
-External links:*...

5,950 Proton 8 January 1973 Lunar rover SuccessLunokhod-2
Lunokhod 2
Lunokhod 2 was the second of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of the Lunokhod program....

 rover traveled 37.0 km across lunar surface
LeMonnier Crater
Le Monnier (crater)
Le Monnier is the remnant of a lunar crater that has been partly inundated by lava flows. It is located on the eastern edge of Mare Serenitatis, and the western part of the rim is missing so that it now forms a large bay. To the north is the crater Chacornac....

025.85N 030.45E
Luna-23
Luna 23
Luna 23 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 23.Luna 23 was a Moon lander mission which was intended to return a lunar sample to Earth. Launched to the Moon by a Proton SL-12/D-1-e booster, the spacecraft was damaged during landing in Mare Crisium...

5,800 Proton 28 October 1974 Sample return Failure – Moon landing achieved, but malfunction prevented sample return Mare Crisium 012.00N 062.00E
Proton 16 October 1975 Sample return Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Luna-24
Luna 24
-External links:*...

5,800 Proton 9 August 1976 Sample return Success – returned 0.17 kg of Moon soil back to Earth Mare Crisium 012.25N 062.20E

The Luna 9
Luna 9
Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth.The automatic lunar station that achieved the...

 spacecraft, launched by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, performed the first successful soft Moon landing on 3 February. Airbags protected its 99 kilograms (218.3 lb) ejectable capsule which survived an impact speed of over 15 metres per second (54 km/h). Luna 13
Luna 13
-External links:* *...

 duplicated this feat with a similar Moon landing on 24 December 1966. Both returned panoramic photographs that were the first views from the lunar surface.

Luna 16
Luna 16
-External links:*...

 was the first robotic probe
Robotic spacecraft
A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

 to land on the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 and safely return a sample of lunar back to Earth. It represented the first lunar sample return mission by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

, and was the third lunar sample return mission
Sample return mission
A sample return mission is a spacecraft mission with the goal of returning tangible samples from an extraterrestrial location to Earth for analysis. Sample return missions may bring back merely atoms and molecules or a deposit of complex compounds such as dirt and rocks...

 overall, following the Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

 and Apollo 12
Apollo 12
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the American Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon . It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L...

 missions. This mission was later successfully repeated by Luna 20
Luna 20
Luna 20 was the second of three successful Soviet lunar sample return missions. It was flown as part of the Luna program, also called Lunik 20, as a robotic competitor to the six successful Apollo lunar sample return missions....

 (1972) and Luna 24
Luna 24
-External links:*...

 (1976).

In 1970 and 1973 two Lunokhod ("Moonwalker") robotic lunar rovers were delivered to the Moon, where they successfully operated for 10 and 4 months respectively, covering 10.5 km (Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1
Lunokhod 1 was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod program. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17...

) and 37 km (Lunokhod 2
Lunokhod 2
Lunokhod 2 was the second of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of the Lunokhod program....

). These rover missions were in operation concurrently with the Zond and Luna series of Moon flyby, orbiter and landing missions.

American unmanned soft landings (1966–1968)

The American robot
Robot
A robot is a mechanical or virtual intelligent agent that can perform tasks automatically or with guidance, typically by remote control. In practice a robot is usually an electro-mechanical machine that is guided by computer and electronic programming. Robots can be autonomous, semi-autonomous or...

ic Surveyor program
Surveyor program
The Surveyor Program was a NASA program that, from 1966 through 1968, sent seven robotic spacecraft to the surface of the Moon. Its primary goal was to demonstrate the feasibility of soft landings on the Moon...

 was part of an effort to locate a safe site on the Moon for a human landing and test under actual lunar conditions the radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

 and landing systems required to make a true controlled touchdown. Five of Surveyor's seven missions made successful unmanned Moon landings. Surveyor 3 was visited two years after its Moon landing by the crew of Apollo 12. They removed parts of it for examination back on Earth to determine the effects of long-term exposure to the lunar environment.
U.S. Mission Mass (kg) Booster Launched Mission goal Mission result Landing zone Lat
Latitude
In geography, the latitude of a location on the Earth is the angular distance of that location south or north of the Equator. The latitude is an angle, and is usually measured in degrees . The equator has a latitude of 0°, the North pole has a latitude of 90° north , and the South pole has a...

/Lon
Longitude
Longitude is a geographic coordinate that specifies the east-west position of a point on the Earth's surface. It is an angular measurement, usually expressed in degrees, minutes and seconds, and denoted by the Greek letter lambda ....

Surveyor 1
Surveyor 1
Surveyor 1 was the first lunar soft-lander in the unmanned Surveyor program of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration . This lunar soft-lander gathered data about the lunar surface that would be needed for the manned Apollo Moon landings that began in 1969...

292 Atlas – Centaur
Centaur (rocket stage)
Centaur is a rocket stage designed for use as the upper stage of space launch vehicles. Centaur boosts its satellite payload to geosynchronous orbit or, in the case of an interplanetary space probe, to or near to escape velocity...

30 May 1966 Moon landing Success – 11,000 pictures returned, first American Moon landing Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum is a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the near side of the Earth's Moon. Its name derives from the old superstition that its appearance during the second quarter heralded bad weather...

002.45S 043.22W
Surveyor 2
Surveyor 2
Surveyor 2 was to be the second lunar lander in the unmanned American Surveyor program to explore the Moon.It was launched September 20, 1966 from Cape Kennedy, Florida aboard an Atlas-Centaur rocket....

292 Atlas – Centaur 20 September 1966 Moon landing Failure – midcourse engine malfunction, placing vehicle in unrecoverable tumble; crashed southeast of Copernicus Crater Sinus Medii
Sinus Medii
Sinus Medii is a small lunar mare that is located at the intersection of the Moon's equator and prime meridian. As seen from the Earth, this feature is located in the central part of the Moon's near side, and it is the point closest to the Earth...

004.00S 011.00W
Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3 was the third lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. Launched on April 17, 1967, Surveyor 3 landed on April 20, 1967 at the Mare Cognitum portion of the Oceanus Procellarum...

302 Atlas – Centaur 20 April 1967 Moon landing Success – 6,000 pictures returned; trench dug to 17.5 cm depth after 18 hr of robot arm use Oceanus Procellarum 002.94S 336.66E
Surveyor 4
Surveyor 4
Surveyor 4 was the fourth lunar lander in the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon.*Launched July 14, 1967; landed July 17, 1967*Weight on landing: 625 lb...

282 Atlas – Centaur 14 July 1967 Moon landing Failure – radio contact lost 2.5 minutes before touchdown; perfect automated Moon landing possible but actual outcome unknown Sinus Medii unknown
Surveyor 5
Surveyor 5
Surveyor 5 was the fifth lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon.*Launched September 8, 1967; landed September 11, 1967*Weight on landing: 303 kg...

303 Atlas – Centaur 8 September 1967 Moon landing Success – 19,000 photos returned, first use of alpha scatter soil composition monitor Mare Tranquillitatis
Mare Tranquillitatis
Mare Tranquillitatis is a lunar mare that sits within the Tranquillitatis basin on the Moon. The mare material within the basin consists of basalt formed in the intermediate to young age group of the Upper Imbrian epoch. The surrounding mountains are thought to be of the Lower Imbrian epoch, but...

001.41N 023.18E
Surveyor 6
Surveyor 6
Surveyor 6 was the sixth lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program that reached the surface of the Moon.*Launched November 7, 1967; landed November 10, 1967*Mass on landing: 299.6 kg Surveyor 6 landed on the Sinus Medii...

300 Atlas – Centaur 7 November 1967 Moon landing Success – 30,000 photos returned, robot arm & alpha scatter science, engine restart, second landing 2.5 m away from first Sinus Medii 000.46N 358.63E
Surveyor 7
Surveyor 7
Surveyor 7 was the seventh and last lunar lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon.*Launched January 7, 1968; landed January 10, 1968*Weight on landing: 305.7 kg...

306 Atlas – Centaur 7 January 1968 Moon landing Success – 21,000 photos returned; robot arm & alpha scatter science; laser beams from Earth detected Tycho Crater
Tycho (crater)
Tycho is a prominent lunar impact crater located in the southern lunar highlands, named after the Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe . To the south is the crater Street; to the east is Pictet, and to the north-northeast is Sasserides. The surface around Tycho is replete with craters of various sizes,...

041.01S 348.59E

Transition from direct ascent landings to lunar orbit operations

Within four months of each other in early 1966 the Soviet Union and the United States had accomplished successful Moon landings with unmanned spacecraft. To the general public both countries had demonstrated roughly equal technical capabilities by returning photographic images from the surface of the Moon. These pictures provided a key affirmative answer to the crucial question of whether or not lunar soil would support upcoming manned landers with their much greater weight.

However, the Luna 9 hard landing of a ruggedized sphere using airbags at a 30 miles (48.3 km)-per-hour ballistic impact speed had much more in common with the failed 1962 Ranger landing attempts and their planned 100 miles (160.9 km)-per-hour impacts than with the Surveyor 1 soft landing on three footpads using its radar-controlled, adjustable-thrust retrorocket. While Luna 9 and Surveyor 1 were both major national accomplishments, only Surveyor 1 had reached its landing site employing key technologies that would be needed for a crewed flight. Thus as of mid-1966, the United States had begun to pull ahead of the Soviet Union in the so-called Space Race to land a man on the Moon.
Advances in other areas were necessary before manned spacecraft could follow unmanned ones to the surface of the Moon. Of particular importance was developing the expertise to perform flight operations in lunar orbit. Ranger, Surveyor and initial Luna Moon landing attempts all utilized flight paths from Earth that traveled directly to the lunar surface without first placing the spacecraft in a lunar orbit. Such direct ascent
Direct ascent
Direct ascent was a proposed method for a mission to the Moon. In the United States, direct ascent proposed using the enormous Nova rocket to launch a spacecraft directly to the Moon, where it would land tail-first and then launch off the Moon back to Earth...

s use a minimum amount of fuel for unmanned spacecraft on a one-way trip.

In contrast, manned vehicles need additional fuel after a lunar landing to enable a return trip back to Earth for the crew. Leaving this massive amount of required Earth-return fuel in lunar orbit until it is actually used later in the mission is far more efficient than taking such fuel down to the lunar surface in a Moon landing and then hauling it all back into space yet again, working against lunar gravity both ways. Such considerations lead logically to a lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous
Lunar orbit rendezvous is a key concept for human landing on the Moon and returning to Earth.In a LOR mission a main spacecraft and a smaller lunar module travel together into lunar orbit. The lunar module then independently descends to the lunar surface. After completion of the mission there, a...

 mission profile for a manned Moon landing.

Accordingly, beginning in mid-1966 both the U.S. and U.S.S.R. naturally progressed into missions which featured lunar orbit operations as a necessary prerequisite to a manned Moon landing. The primary goals of these initial unmanned orbiters were extensive photographic mapping of the entire lunar surface for the selection of manned landing sites and, for the Soviets, the checkout of radio communications gear that would be used in future soft landings.

An unexpected major discovery from initial lunar orbiters were vast volumes of dense materials beneath the surface of the Moon's maria. Such mass concentrations ("mascons") can send a manned mission dangerously off course in the final minutes of a Moon landing when aiming for a relatively small landing zone that is smooth and safe. Mascons were also found over a longer period of time to greatly disturb the orbits of low-altitude satellites around the Moon, making their orbits unstable and forcing an inevitable crash on the lunar surface in the relatively short period of months to a few years. Thus all lunar orbiter satellites eventually become unintentional "lunar landers" at the end of their missions.

Controlling the location of impact for spent lunar orbiters can have scientific value. For example, in 1999 the NASA Lunar Prospector
Lunar Prospector
The Lunar Prospector mission was the third selected by NASA for full development and construction as part of the Discovery Program. At a cost of $62.8 million, the 19-month mission was designed for a low polar orbit investigation of the Moon, including mapping of surface composition and possible...

 orbiter was deliberately targeted to impact a permanently shadowed area of Shoemaker Crater near the lunar south pole. It was hoped that energy from the impact would vaporize suspected shadowed ice deposits in the crater and liberate a water vapor plume that would be detectable from Earth. No such plume was observed. However, a small vial of ashes from the body of pioneer lunar scientist Eugene Shoemaker was delivered by the Lunar Prospector to the crater named in his honor – currently the only human remains on the Moon today.

Soviet lunar orbit satellites (1966–1974)

U.S.S.R Mission Mass (kg) Booster Launched Mission goal Mission result
Cosmos – 111 Molniya-M
Molniya-M
The Molniya-M , designation 8K78M, was a Russian carrier rocket derived from the R-7 Semyorka ICBM. First launched in 1964, it had replaced its predecessor, Molniya, by the end of 1965...

1 March 1966 Lunar orbiter Failure – stranded in low Earth orbit
Luna-10
Luna 10
Luna 10 was a Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10.The Luna 10 spacecraft was launched towards the Moon from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. It was the first artificial satellite of the Moon...

1,582 Molniya-M 31 March 1966 Lunar orbiter Success – 2,738 km x 2,088 km x 72 deg orbit, 178 m period, 60 day science mission
Luna-11
Luna 11
Luna 11 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. It is also called Lunik 11.Luna 11 was launched towards the Moon from an earth-orbiting platform and entered lunar orbit on 27 August 1966...

1,640 Molniya-M 24 August 1966 Lunar orbiter Success – 2,931 km x 1,898 km x 27 deg orbit, 178 m period, 38 day science mission
Luna-12
Luna 12
-External links:*...

1,620 Molniya-M 22 October 1966 Lunar orbiter Success – 2,938 km x 1,871 km x 10 deg orbit, 205 m period, 89 day science mission
Cosmos-159 1,700 Molniya-M 17 May 1967 Prototype test Success – high Earth orbit manned landing communications gear radio calibration test
Molniya-M 7 February 1968 Lunar orbiter Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit – attempted radio calibration test?
Luna-14
Luna 14
-External links:*...

1,700 Molniya-M 7 April 1968 Lunar orbiter Success – 870 km x 160 km x 42 deg orbit, 160 m period, unstable orbit, radio calibration test?
Luna-19
Luna 19
Luna 19 , was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program. Luna 19 extended the systematic study of lunar gravitational fields and location of mascons . It also studied the lunar radiation environment, the gamma-active lunar surface, and the solar wind...

5,700 Proton
Proton rocket
Proton is an expendable launch system used for both commercial and Russian government space launches. The first Proton rocket was launched in 1965 and the launch system is still in use as of 2011, which makes it one of the most successful heavy boosters in the history of spaceflight...

28 September 1971 Lunar orbiter Success – 140 km x 140 km x 41 deg orbit, 121 m period, 388 day science mission
Luna-22
Luna 22
Luna 22 was an unmanned space mission, part of the Soviet Luna program, also called Lunik 22.Luna 22 was a lunar orbiter mission...

5,700 Proton 29 May 1974 Lunar orbiter Success – 222 km x 219 km x 19 deg orbit, 130 m period, 521 day science mission


Luna 10
Luna 10
Luna 10 was a Luna program, robotic spacecraft mission, also called Lunik 10.The Luna 10 spacecraft was launched towards the Moon from an Earth orbiting platform on March 31, 1966. It was the first artificial satellite of the Moon...

 became the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon on 3 April 1966.

American lunar orbit satellites (1966–1967)

U.S. Mission Mass (kg) Booster Launched Mission goal Mission result
Lunar Orbiter 1
Lunar Orbiter 1
The Lunar Orbiter 1 robotic spacecraft, part of the Lunar Orbiter Program, 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...

386 Atlas
Atlas (missile)
The SM-65 Atlas was the first intercontinental ballistic missile developed and deployed by the United States. It was built for the U.S. Air Force by Convair Division of General Dynamics at the Kearny Mesa assembly plant north of San Diego, California...

 – Agena
RM-81 Agena
The RM-81 Agena was an American rocket upper stage and satellite support bus which was developed by Lockheed initially for the canceled WS-117L reconnaissance satellite program...

10 August 1966 Lunar orbiter Success – 1,160 km X 189 km x 12 deg orbit, 208 m period, 80 day photography mission
Lunar Orbiter 2
Lunar Orbiter 2
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...

386 Atlas – Agena 6 November 1966 Lunar orbiter Success – 1,860 km X 52 km x 12 deg orbit, 208 m period, 339 day photography mission
Lunar Orbiter 3
Lunar Orbiter 3
The Lunar Orbiter 3 was a spacecraft launched by NASA in 1967, designed primarily to photograph areas of the lunar surface for confirmation of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions...

386 Atlas – Agena 5 February 1967 Lunar orbiter Success – 1,860 km X 52 km x 21 deg orbit, 208 m period, 246 day photography mission
Lunar Orbiter 4
Lunar Orbiter 4
Lunar Orbiter 4 was designed to take advantage of the fact that the three previous Lunar Orbiters had completed the required needs for Apollo mapping and site selection...

386 Atlas – Agena 4 May 1967 Lunar orbiter Success – 6,111 km X 2,706 km x 86 deg orbit, 721 m period, 180 day photography mission
Lunar Orbiter 5
Lunar Orbiter 5
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...

386 Atlas – Agena 1 August 1967 Lunar orbiter Success – 6,023 km X 195 km x 85 deg orbit, 510 m period, 183 day photography mission

Soviet circumlunar loop flights (1967–1970)

It is possible to aim a spacecraft from Earth so that it will loop around the Moon and return to Earth without actually entering lunar orbit, following the so-called free return trajectory
Free return trajectory
A free return trajectory is one of a very small sub-class of trajectories in which the trajectory of a satellite traveling away from a primary body is modified by the presence of a secondary body causing the satellite to return to the primary body...

. Such circumlunar loop missions are simpler than actual lunar orbit missions because rockets for lunar orbit braking and Earth return are not required. However, a manned circumlunar loop trip poses significant challenges above and beyond those found in a manned low-Earth-orbit mission, offering valuable lessons in preparation for a manned Moon landing. Foremost among these are mastering the demands of re-entering the Earth's atmosphere upon returning from the Moon. Manned Earth-orbiting vehicles such as the Space Shuttle return to Earth from speeds of around 17,000 miles per hour (27,400 km/h, 7,600 m/s). Due to the effects of gravity, a vehicle returning from the Moon hits Earth's atmosphere at a much higher speed of around 25,000 miles per hour (40,200 km/h, 11,200 m/s). The g-loading
G-force
The g-force associated with an object is its acceleration relative to free-fall. This acceleration experienced by an object is due to the vector sum of non-gravitational forces acting on an object free to move. The accelerations that are not produced by gravity are termed proper accelerations, and...

 on astronauts during the resulting deceleration
Acceleration
In physics, acceleration is the rate of change of velocity with time. In one dimension, acceleration is the rate at which something speeds up or slows down. However, since velocity is a vector, acceleration describes the rate of change of both the magnitude and the direction of velocity. ...

 can be at the limits of human endurance even during a nominal reentry. Slight variations in the vehicle flight path and reentry angle during a return from the Moon can easily result in fatal levels of deceleration force.

Achieving a manned circumlunar loop flight prior to a manned lunar landing became a primary goal of the Soviets with their Zond spacecraft program. The first three Zonds were unmanned planetary probes; after that, the Zond name was transferred to a completely separate manned program. The initial focus of these later Zonds was extensive testing of required high-speed reentry techniques. This focus was not shared by the Americans, who chose instead to bypass the stepping stone of a manned circumlunar loop mission and never developed a separate spacecraft for this purpose.

Initial manned spaceflights in the early 1960s placed a single person in low Earth orbit during the Soviet Vostok
Vostok programme
The Vostok programme was a Soviet human spaceflight project that succeeded in putting a person into Earth's orbit for the first time. The programme developed the Vostok spacecraft from the Zenit spy satellite project and adapted the Vostok rocket from an existing ICBM design...

 and American Mercury
Mercury program
Mercury Program might refer to:*the first successful American manned spaceflight program, Project Mercury*an American post-rock band, The Mercury Program...

 programs. A two-flight extension of the Vostok program known as Voskhod
Voskhod programme
The Voskhod programme was the second Soviet human spaceflight project. Two manned missions were flown using the Voskhod spacecraft and rocket, one in 1964 and one in 1965....

 effectively used Vostok capsules with their ejection seats removed to achieve Soviet space firsts of multiple person crews in 1964 and spacewalks in early 1965. These capabilities were later demonstrated by the Americans in ten Gemini low Earth orbit missions throughout 1965 and 1966, using a totally new second-generation spacecraft design that had little in common with the earlier Mercury. These Gemini missions went on to prove critical techniques for orbital rendezvous and docking
Space rendezvous
A space rendezvous is an orbital maneuver during which two spacecraft, one of which is often a space station, arrive at the same orbit and approach to a very close distance . Rendezvous requires a precise match of the orbital velocities of the two spacecraft, allowing them to remain at a constant...

 that were crucial to a manned lunar landing mission profile.

After the end of the Gemini program, the Soviets Union began flying their second-generation Zond manned spacecraft in 1967 with the ultimate goal of looping a cosmonaut around the Moon and returning him immediately to Earth. The Zond spacecraft was launched with the simpler and already operational Proton
Proton rocket
Proton is an expendable launch system used for both commercial and Russian government space launches. The first Proton rocket was launched in 1965 and the launch system is still in use as of 2011, which makes it one of the most successful heavy boosters in the history of spaceflight...

 launch rocket, unlike the parallel Soviet manned Moon landing effort also underway at the time based on third-generation Soyuz spacecraft
Soyuz spacecraft
Soyuz , Union) is a series of spacecraft initially designed for the Soviet space programme by the Korolyov Design Bureau in the 1960s, and still in service today...

 requiring development of the advanced N-1 booster. The Soviets thus believed they could achieve a manned Zond circumlunar flight years before an American manned lunar landing and so score a propaganda victory. However, significant development problems delayed the Zond program and the success of the American Apollo lunar landing program led to the eventual termination of the Zond effort.

Like Zond, Apollo Moon flights were generally launched on a free return trajectory that would return them to Earth via a circumlunar loop in the event that a Service Module malfunction failed to place them in lunar orbit as planned. This option was implemented after an explosion aboard the Apollo 13
Apollo 13
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST. The landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command...

 mission in 1970, which is the only manned circumlunar loop mission flown to date.
U.S.S.R Mission Mass (kg) Booster Launched Mission goal Payload Mission result
Cosmos-146 5,400 Proton
Proton rocket
Proton is an expendable launch system used for both commercial and Russian government space launches. The first Proton rocket was launched in 1965 and the launch system is still in use as of 2011, which makes it one of the most successful heavy boosters in the history of spaceflight...

10 March 1967 High Earth Orbit unmanned Partial success – Successfully reached high Earth orbit, but became stranded and was unable to initiate controlled high speed atmospheric reentry test
Cosmos-154 5,400 Proton 8 April 1967 High Earth Orbit unmanned Partial success – Successfully reached high Earth orbit, but became stranded and was unable to initiate controlled high speed atmospheric reentry test
Proton 28 September 1967 High Earth Orbit unmanned Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Proton 22 November 1967 High Earth Orbit unmanned Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Zond-4
Zond 4
Zond 4, a formal component of the Soviet Zond program and unmanned version of Soyuz 7K-L1 manned Moon-flyby spacecraft, was one of the first Soviet experiments towards manned circumlunar spaceflight. It was launched to test the spaceworthiness of the new capsule and to gather data about flights in...

5,140 Proton 2 March 1968 High Earth Orbit unmanned Partial success – launched successfully to 300,000 km high Earth orbit, high speed reentry test guidance malfunction, intentional self-destruct to prevent landfall outside Soviet Union
Proton 23 April 1968 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit; launch preparation tank explosion kills three in pad crew
Zond-5
Zond 5
Zond 5, a formal member of the Soviet Zond program and unmanned version of Soyuz 7K-L1 manned moon-flyby spacecraft, was launched from a Tyazheliy Sputnik in Earth parking orbit to make scientific studies during a lunar flyby and to return to Earth....

5,375 Proton 15 September 1968 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Success – looped around Moon, returned live biological payload safely to Earth despite landing off-target outside the Soviet Union in the Indian Ocean
Zond-6
Zond 6
Zond 6, a formal member of the Soviet Zond program and unmanned version of Soyuz 7K-L1 manned moon-flyby spacecraft, was launched on a lunar flyby mission from a parent satellite in Earth parking orbit...

5,375 Proton 10 November 1968 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Partial success – looped around Moon, successful reentry, but loss of cabin air pressure caused biological payload death, parachute system malfunction and severe vehicle damage upon landing
Proton 20 January 1969 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Failure – booster malfunction, failed to reach Earth orbit
Zond-7
Zond 7
This article was originally based on material from ...

5,979 Proton 8 August 1969 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Success – looped around Moon, returned biological payload safely to Earth and landed on-target inside Soviet Union. Only Zond mission whose reentry G-forces would have been survivable by human crew had they been aboard.
Zond-8 5,375 Proton 20 October 1970 Circumlunar Loop non-human biological payload Success – looped around Moon, returned biological payload safely to Earth despite landing off-target outside Soviet Union in the Indian Ocean


Zond 5 was the first spacecraft to carry life from Earth to the vicinity of the Moon and return, initiating the final lap of the Space Race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

 with its payload of turtles, insects, plants and bacteria. Despite the failure suffered in its final moments, the Zond 6 mission was reported by Soviet media as being a success as well. Although hailed worldwide as remarkable achievements, both of these Zond missions actually flew off-nominal reentry trajectories resulting in deceleration forces that would have been fatal to human crewmembers had they been aboard. As a result, the Soviets secretly planned to continue unmanned Zond tests until their reliability to support manned flight had been demonstrated. However, due to NASA's continuing problems with the lunar module
Apollo Lunar Module
The Apollo Lunar Module was the lander portion of the Apollo spacecraft built for the US Apollo program by Grumman to carry a crew of two from lunar orbit to the surface and back...

, and because of CIA
Central Intelligence Agency
The Central Intelligence Agency is a civilian intelligence agency of the United States government. It is an executive agency and reports directly to the Director of National Intelligence, responsible for providing national security intelligence assessment to senior United States policymakers...

 reports of a potential Soviet manned circumlunar flight in late 1968, NASA fatefully changed the flight plan of Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

 from an Earth-orbit lunar module test to a lunar orbit mission scheduled for late December 1968.

In early December 1968 the launch window to the Moon opened for the Soviet launch site in Baikonur
Baikonur
Baikonur , formerly known as Leninsk, is a city in Kyzylorda Province of Kazakhstan, rented and administered by the Russian Federation. It was constructed to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome and was officially renamed Baikonur by Russian president Boris Yeltsin on December 20, 1995.The shape of the...

, giving the USSR their final chance to beat the US to the Moon. Cosmonauts went on alert and asked to fly the Zond spacecraft then in final countdown at Baikonour on the first manned trip to the Moon. Ultimately, however, the Soviet Politburo
Politburo of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Politburo , known as the Presidium from 1952 to 1966, functioned as the central policymaking and governing body of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.-Duties and responsibilities:The...

 decided the risk of crew death was unacceptable given the combined poor performance to that point of Zond/Proton and so scrubbed the launch of a manned Soviet lunar mission. Their decision proved to be a wise one, since this unnumbered Zond mission was destroyed in another unmanned test when it was finally launched several weeks later.

By this time flights of the third generation American Apollo spacecraft had begun. Far more capable than the Zond, the Apollo spacecraft had the necessary rocket power to slip into and out of lunar orbit and to make course adjustments required for a safe reentry during the return to Earth. The Apollo 8 mission carried out the first manned trip to the Moon on 24 December 1968, certifying the Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

 booster for manned use and flying not a circumlunar loop but instead a full ten orbits around the Moon before returning safely to Earth. Apollo 10
Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the American Apollo space program. It was an F type mission—its purpose was to be a "dry run" 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...

 then performed a full dress rehearsal of a manned Moon landing in May 1969. This mission stopped short at ten miles (16 km) altitude above the lunar surface, performing necessary low-altitude mapping of trajectory-altering mascons using a factory prototype lunar module that was too overweight to allow a successful landing. With the failure of the unmanned Soviet sample return Moon landing attempt Luna 15
Luna 15
-External links:*...

 in July 1969, the stage was set for Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

.

Manned Moon landings (1969–1972)

American strategy

The U.S. Moon exploration program originated during the Eisenhower
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Dwight David "Ike" Eisenhower was the 34th President of the United States, from 1953 until 1961. He was a five-star general in the United States Army...

 administration. In a series of mid-1950s articles in Collier's
Collier's Weekly
Collier's Weekly was an American magazine founded by Peter Fenelon Collier and published from 1888 to 1957. With the passage of decades, the title was shortened to Collier's....

magazine, Wernher von Braun
Wernher von Braun
Wernher Magnus Maximilian, Freiherr von Braun was a German rocket scientist, aerospace engineer, space architect, and one of the leading figures in the development of rocket technology in Nazi Germany during World War II and in the United States after that.A former member of the Nazi party,...

 had popularized the idea of a manned expedition to the Moon to establish a lunar base. A manned Moon landing posed several daunting technical challenges to the U.S. and USSR. Besides guidance and weight management, atmospheric re-entry without ablative
Ablation
Ablation is removal of material from the surface of an object by vaporization, chipping, or other erosive processes. This occurs in spaceflight during ascent and atmospheric reentry, glaciology, medicine, and passive fire protection.-Spaceflight:...

 overheating was a major hurdle. After the Soviet Union's launch of Sputnik, von Braun promoted a plan for the United States Army to establish a military lunar outpost by 1965.

After the early Soviet successes, especially Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Gagarin
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a Soviet pilot and cosmonaut. He was the first human to journey into outer space, when his Vostok spacecraft completed an orbit of the Earth on April 12, 1961....

's flight, U.S. President John F. Kennedy
John F. Kennedy
John Fitzgerald "Jack" Kennedy , often referred to by his initials JFK, was the 35th President of the United States, serving from 1961 until his assassination in 1963....

 looked for an American project that would capture the public imagination. He asked Vice President Lyndon Johnson to make recommendations on a scientific endeavor that would prove U.S. world leadership. The proposals included non-space options such as massive irrigation projects to benefit the Third World
Third World
The term Third World arose during the Cold War to define countries that remained non-aligned with either capitalism and NATO , or communism and the Soviet Union...

. The Soviets, at the time, had more powerful rockets than the United States, which gave them an advantage in some kinds of space missions. Advances in U.S. nuclear weapons technology had led to smaller, lighter warheads, and consequently, rockets with smaller payload capacities. By comparison, Soviet nuclear weapons were much heavier, and the powerful R-7
R-7 Semyorka
The R-7 was a Soviet missile developed during the Cold War, and the world's first intercontinental ballistic missile. The R-7 made 28 launches between 1957 and 1961, but was never deployed operationally. A derivative, the R-7A, was deployed from 1960 to 1968...

 rocket was developed to carry them. More modest potential missions such as flying around the Moon without landing or establishing a space lab in orbit (both were proposed by Kennedy to von Braun) were determined to offer too much advantage to the Soviets, since the U.S. would have to develop a heavy rocket to match the Soviets. A Moon landing, however, would capture world imagination while functioning as propaganda
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

.
Mindful that the Apollo Program
Project Apollo
The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

 would economically benefit most of the key states in the next election—particularly his home state of Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

 because NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

's base was in Houston
Houston, Texas
Houston is the fourth-largest city in the United States, and the largest city in the state of Texas. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 2.1 million people within an area of . Houston is the seat of Harris County and the economic center of , which is the ...

—Johnson championed the Apollo program. This superficially indicated action to alleviate the fictional "missile gap
Missile gap
The missile gap was the term used in the United States for the perceived disparity between the number and power of the weapons in the U.S.S.R. and U.S. ballistic missile arsenals during the Cold War. The gap only existed in exaggerated estimates made by the Gaither Committee in 1957 and United...

" between the U.S. and USSR, a campaign promise of Kennedy's in the 1960 election. The Apollo project allowed continued development of dual-use technology. Johnson also advised that for anything less than a lunar landing the USSR had a good chance of beating the U.S. For these reasons, Kennedy seized on Apollo as the ideal focus for American efforts in space. He ensured continuing funding, shielding space spending from the 1963 tax cut and diverting money from other NASA projects. This dismayed NASA's leader, James E. Webb
James E. Webb
James Edwin Webb was an American government official who served as the second administrator of NASA from February 14, 1961 to October 7, 1968....

, who urged support for other scientific work.

The Saturn V booster was the key to U.S. Moon landings. The Saturn had a perfect record of zero failures in thirteen launches.

Whatever he said in private, Kennedy needed a different message to gain public support to uphold what he was saying and his views. Later in 1963, Kennedy asked Vice President Johnson to investigate the possible technological and scientific benefits of a Moon mission.
Johnson concluded that the benefits were limited, but, with the help of scientists at NASA, he put together a powerful case, citing possible medical breakthroughs and interesting pictures of Earth from space.
For the program to succeed, its proponents would have to defeat criticism from politicians on the left, who wanted more money spent on social programs, and on those on the right, who favored a more military project. By emphasizing the scientific payoff and playing on fears of Soviet space dominance, Kennedy and Johnson managed to swing public opinion: by 1965, 58 percent of Americans favored Apollo, up from 33 percent two years earlier. After Johnson became President in 1963, his continuing defense of the program allowed it to succeed in 1969, as Kennedy had originally hoped.

Soviet strategy

Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Khrushchev
Nikita Sergeyevich Khrushchev led the Soviet Union during part of the Cold War. He served as First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1953 to 1964, and as Chairman of the Council of Ministers, or Premier, from 1958 to 1964...

 did not relish "defeat" by any other power, but equally did not relish funding such an expensive project. In October 1963 he said that the USSR was "not at present planning flight by cosmonauts to the Moon," while insisting that the Soviets had not dropped out of the race. Only after another year would the USSR fully commit itself to a Moon-landing attempt, which ultimately failed.

At the same time, Kennedy had suggested various joint programs, including a possible Moon landing by Soviet and American astronauts and the development of better weather-monitoring satellites. Khrushchev, sensing an attempt by Kennedy to steal Russian space technology, rejected the idea: if the USSR went to the Moon, it would go alone. Korolyov
Sergey Korolyov
Sergei Pavlovich Korolev ; died 14 January 1966 in Moscow, Russia) was the lead Soviet rocket engineer and spacecraft designer in the Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union during the 1950s and 1960s...

, the RSA's chief designer, had started promoting his Soyuz
Soyuz spacecraft
Soyuz , Union) is a series of spacecraft initially designed for the Soviet space programme by the Korolyov Design Bureau in the 1960s, and still in service today...

 craft and the N-1 launcher rocket that would have the capability of carrying out a manned Moon landing. Khrushchev directed Korolyov's design bureau to arrange further space firsts by modifying the existing Vostok technology, while a second team started building a completely new launcher and craft, the Proton booster and the Zond, for a manned cislunar flight in 1966. In 1964 the new Soviet leadership gave Korolyov the backing for a Moon landing effort and brought all manned projects under his direction. With Korolyov's death and the failure of the first Soyuz flight in 1967, the co-ordination of the Soviet Moon landing program quickly unraveled. The Soviets built a landing craft and selected cosmonauts for the mission that would have placed Aleksei Leonov
Aleksei Leonov
Alexey Arkhipovich Leonov is a retired Soviet/Russian cosmonaut and Air Force Major General who, on 18 March 1965, became the first human to conduct a space walk.-Biography:...

 on the Moon's surface, but with the successive launch failures of the N1 booster in 1969, plans for a manned landing suffered first delay and then cancellation.

Apollo missions

U.S. Mission Booster Crew Launched Mission goal Mission result
AS-201
AS-201
AS-201 , flown February 26, 1966, was the first unmanned test flight of an entire production Block I Apollo Command/Service Module and the Saturn IB launch vehicle. The spacecraft consisted of the second Block I command module and the first Block I service module...

 (Apollo 1A)
Saturn 1B Unmanned 26 February 1966 Suborbital Partial success – Unmanned suborbital flight was the first test flight of Saturn 1B and of the Apollo Command and Service Modules; problems included the failure of service module engine to fire for longer than 60 seconds and an electrical systems failure in the command module
AS-203
AS-203
AS-203 was an unmanned flight of the Saturn IB rocket on July 5, 1966. It carried no Apollo Command/Service Module spacecraft, as its purpose was to verify the design of the S-IVB rocket stage restart capability that would later be used in the Apollo program to boost astronauts from Earth orbit to...

 (Apollo 2)
Saturn 1B Unmanned 5 July 1966 Earth orbit Success – fuel tank behaviour test and booster certification – informally known as Apollo 2
AS-202
AS-202
AS-202 was the second unmanned, suborbital test flight of a production Block I Apollo Command/Service Module launched with the Saturn IB launch vehicle. It launched August 25, 1966 and was the first flight which included the spacecraft Guidance and Navigation Control system and fuel cells...

 (Apollo 3)
Saturn 1B Unmanned 25 August 1966 Suborbital Success – command module reentry test successful, even though reentry was very uncontrolled – informally known as Apollo 3
AS-204
Apollo 1
Apollo 1 was scheduled to be the first manned mission of the Apollo manned lunar landing program, with a target launch date of February 21, 1967. A cabin fire during a launch pad test on January 27 at Launch Pad 34 at Cape Canaveral killed all three crew members: Command Pilot Virgil "Gus"...

 (Apollo 1)
Saturn 1B Virgil I. "Gus" Grissom
Gus Grissom
Virgil Ivan Grissom , , better known as Gus Grissom, was one of the original NASA Project Mercury astronauts and a United States Air Force pilot...

, Edward White
Edward Higgins White
Edward Higgins White, II was an engineer, United States Air Force officer and NASA astronaut. On June 3, 1965, he became the first American to "walk" in space. White died along with fellow astronauts Gus Grissom and Roger Chaffee during a pre-launch test for the first manned Apollo mission at...

, Roger B. Chaffee
Roger B. Chaffee
Roger Bruce Chaffee was an American aeronautical engineer and a NASA astronaut in the Apollo program. Chaffee died along with fellow astronauts Gus Grissom and Ed White during a pre-launch test for the Apollo 1 mission at Cape Kennedy...

(Launch cancelled) Earth orbit Failure – never launched: command module destroyed and three astronauts killed on 27 January 1967 by fire in the module during a test exercise – Retroactively, the mission's name was officially changed to "Apollo 1" after the fire. Despite the fact that it was scheduled to be the fourth Apollo mission (and despite the fact that NASA planned to call the mission AS-204), the flight patch worn by the three astronauts, which was approved by NASA in June 1966, already referred to the mission as "Apollo 1"
Apollo 4
Apollo 4
Apollo 4, , was the first unmanned test flight of the Saturn V launch vehicle, which was ultimately used by the Apollo program to send the first men to the Moon...

Saturn V
Saturn V
The Saturn V was an American human-rated expendable rocket used by NASA's Apollo and Skylab programs from 1967 until 1973. A multistage liquid-fueled launch vehicle, NASA launched 13 Saturn Vs from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida with no loss of crew or payload...

Unmanned 9 November 1967 Earth orbit Success – first test of new booster and all elements together (except lunar module), successful reentry of command module
Apollo 5
Apollo 5
Apollo 5 was the first unmanned flight of the Apollo Lunar Module, which would later carry astronauts to the lunar surface. It lifted off on January 22, 1968 with a Saturn IB rocket.-Objectives:...

Saturn 1B Unmanned 22 January 1968 Earth orbit Success – first flight of lunar module, multiple space tests of lunar module, no controlled reentry – used the Saturn 1B rocket original slated for the cancelled "Apollo 1" mission
Apollo 6
Apollo 6
Apollo 6, launched on April 4, 1968, was the Apollo program's second and last A type mission—unmanned test flight of its Saturn V launch vehicle. It was intended to demonstrate full lunar injection capability of the Saturn V, and the capability of the Command Module's heat shield to withstand a...

Saturn V Unmanned 4 April 1968 Earth orbit Partial success – severe oscillations during orbital insertion, several engines failing during flight, successful reentry of command module (though mission parameters for a 'worst case' reentry scenario could not be achieved)
Apollo 7
Apollo 7
Apollo 7 was the first manned mission in the American Apollo space program, and the first manned US space flight after a cabin fire killed the crew of what was to have been the first manned mission, AS-204 , during a launch pad test in 1967...

Saturn 1B Walter M. "Wally" Schirra
Wally Schirra
Walter Marty Schirra, Jr. was an American test pilot, United States Navy officer, and one of the original Mercury 7 astronauts chosen for the Project Mercury, America's effort to put humans in space. He is the only person to fly in all of America's first three space programs...

, Donn Eisele, Walter Cunningham
Walter Cunningham
Ronnie Walter Cunningham , known as Walt Cunningham, is a retired American astronaut. In 1968, he was the Lunar Module pilot on the Apollo 7 mission...

11 October 1968 Earth orbit Success – eleven-day manned Earth orbit, command module testing (no lunar module), some minor crew issues
Apollo 8
Apollo 8
Apollo 8, the second manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first human spaceflight to leave Earth orbit; the first to be captured by and escape from the gravitational field of another celestial body; and the first crewed voyage to return to Earth from another celestial...

Saturn V Frank Borman
Frank Borman
Frank Frederick Borman, II is a retired NASA astronaut and engineer, best remembered as the Commander of Apollo 8, the first mission to fly around the Moon, making him, along with fellow crew mates Jim Lovell and Bill Anders, the first of only 24 humans to do so...

, Jim Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

, William A. Anders
21 December 1968 Lunar orbit Success – ambitious mission profile (changed relatively shortly before launch), first human lunar orbit (no lunar module), first earthrise seen by men and major publicity success, some minor sleeping and illness issues
Apollo 9
Apollo 9
Apollo 9, the third manned mission in the American Apollo space program, was the first flight of the Command/Service Module with the Lunar Module...

Saturn V James McDivitt
James McDivitt
James Alton McDivitt is a former NASA astronaut and engineer who flew in the Gemini and Apollo programs. He commanded the Gemini 4 flight in which Edward H. White performed the first US space walk, and later the Apollo 9 flight which was the first manned Earth orbital test of the Apollo Lunar...

, David Scott
David Scott
David Randolph Scott is an American engineer, test pilot, retired U.S. Air Force officer, and former NASA astronaut and engineer, who was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963...

, Russell L. "Rusty" Schweickart
Rusty Schweickart
Russell Louis "Rusty" Schweickart aka Schweikart is an American former astronaut, research scientist, US Air Force fighter pilot, business and government executive...

3 March 1969 Earth orbit Success – ten-day manned Earth orbit, with EVA and successful manned flight / docking of lunar module
Apollo 10
Apollo 10
Apollo 10 was the fourth manned mission in the American Apollo space program. It was an F type mission—its purpose was to be a "dry run" 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...

Saturn V Thomas P. Stafford, John W. Young, Eugene Cernan 18 May 1969 Lunar orbit Success – second manned lunar orbit, test of lunar module in lunar orbit, coming as close as 8.4 nautical miles (15.6 km) to the Moon's surface
Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

Saturn V Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

, Michael Collins
Michael Collins (astronaut)
Michael Collins is a former American astronaut and test pilot. Selected as part of the third group of fourteen astronauts in 1963, he flew in space twice. His first spaceflight was Gemini 10, in which he and command pilot John Young performed two rendezvous with different spacecraft and Collins...

, Edwin A. "Buzz" Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

16 July 1969 Lunar landing Success – First manned landing, exploration on foot.
Apollo 12
Apollo 12
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the American Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon . It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L...

Saturn V Charles "Pete" Conrad
Pete Conrad
Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. was an American naval officer, astronaut and engineer, and the third person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. He set an eight-day space endurance record along with command pilot Gordon Cooper on the Gemini 5 mission, and commanded the Gemini 11 mission...

, Richard Gordon
Richard F. Gordon, Jr.
Richard Francis Gordon, Jr., Captain, USN, Ret. is a retired NASA astronaut. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon.-Military and flight experience:Gordon was born in Seattle, Washington...

, Alan Bean
Alan Bean
Alan LaVern Bean is a former NASA astronaut, engineer, and painter. Bean was selected to become an astronaut by NASA in 1963 as part of Astronaut Group 3. He made his first flight into space aboard Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, at the age of thirty-seven years in...

14 November 1969 Lunar landing Success – mission almost aborted in-flight after lightning strike on takeoff caused telemetry loss, successful landing within 200 meters of the Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3
Surveyor 3 was the third lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. Launched on April 17, 1967, Surveyor 3 landed on April 20, 1967 at the Mare Cognitum portion of the Oceanus Procellarum...

 probe
Apollo 13
Apollo 13
Apollo 13 was the seventh manned mission in the American Apollo space program and the third intended to land on the Moon. The craft was launched on April 11, 1970, at 13:13 CST. The landing was aborted after an oxygen tank exploded two days later, crippling the service module upon which the Command...

Saturn V Jim Lovell
Jim Lovell
James "Jim" Arthur Lovell, Jr., is a former NASA astronaut and a retired captain in the United States Navy, most famous as the commander of the Apollo 13 mission, which suffered a critical failure en route to the Moon but was brought back safely to Earth by the efforts of the crew and mission...

, Jack Swigert
Jack Swigert
He later became staff director of the Committee on Science and Technology of the U.S. House of Representatives.Swigert was elected as a Republican to Colorado's newly created 6th congressional district in November 1982. He defeated Democrat Steve Hogan, 98,909 votes to 56,518...

, Fred Haise
Fred Haise
Fred Wallace Haise, Jr. is an engineer and former NASA astronaut. He is one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon. Having flown on Apollo 13, Haise was to be the sixth human to walk on the Moon, but the mission did not land due to a failure aboard the spacecraft.-Early life and...

11 April 1970 Lunar landing Successful failure – problematic oscillations on start, unrelated explosion in service module during Earth-Moon transition caused mission to be aborted – crew took temporary refuge in lunar module and eventually returned to Earth with command module after single pass around Moon and made it through reentry.
Apollo 14
Apollo 14
Apollo 14 was the eighth manned mission in the American 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....

Saturn V Alan B. Shepard, Stuart Roosa
Stuart Roosa
Stuart Allen Roosa was a NASA astronaut, who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 14 mission. The mission lasted from January 31 to February 9, 1971 and was the third mission to land astronauts on the Moon...

, Edgar Mitchell
31 January 1971 Lunar landing Success – software and hardware problems with lunar module almost caused landing abort during lunar orbit, first color video images from the Moon, first materials science experiments in space
Apollo 15
Apollo 15
Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the American Apollo space 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 duration stays on the Moon with a greater focus on science than had been possible on previous...

Saturn V David Scott
David Scott
David Randolph Scott is an American engineer, test pilot, retired U.S. Air Force officer, and former NASA astronaut and engineer, who was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963...

, Alfred Worden
Alfred Worden
Alfred Merrill Worden is an American astronaut who was the command module pilot for the Apollo 15 Moon mission in July–August 1971. The son of Merrill and Helen Worden, he was born in Jackson, Michigan...

, James Irwin
James Irwin
James Benson Irwin was an American astronaut and engineer. He served as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 15, the fourth human lunar landing; he was the eighth person to walk on the Moon.-Early life:...

26 July 1971 Lunar landing Success – first longer (3 days) stay on Moon, first use of lunar rover
Lunar rover
The Lunar Roving Vehicle or lunar rover was a battery-powered four-wheeled rover used on the Moon in the last three missions of the American Apollo program during 1971 and 1972...

 to travel total of 17.25 miles (27.8 km), more extensive geology investigations
Apollo 16
Apollo 16
Young and Duke served as the backup crew for Apollo 13; Mattingly was slated to be the Apollo 13 command module pilot until being pulled from the mission due to his exposure to rubella through Duke.-Backup crew:...

Saturn V John W. Young, Ken Mattingly
Ken Mattingly
Thomas Kenneth "Ken" Mattingly II, is a retired American astronaut and rear admiral in the United States Navy who flew on the Apollo 16, STS-4 and STS-51-C missions. He had been scheduled to fly on Apollo 13, but was held back due to concerns about a potential illness...

, Charles Duke
16 April 1972 Lunar landing Success – malfunction in a backup yaw gimbal servo loop almost aborted landing (and reduced stay duration on Moon by one day to three for safety reasons), only mission to target lunar highlands
Apollo 17
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the American Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the...

Saturn V Eugene Cernan, Ronald Evans
Ronald Evans
Ronald Ellwin Evans, Jr. was a NASA astronaut and one of only 24 people to have flown to the Moon. He also served as a captain in the United States Navy....

, Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt
Harrison Schmitt
Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt is an American geologist, a retired NASA astronaut, university professor, and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico....

7 December 1972 Lunar landing Success – last (and still most recent) manned landing on the Moon, only mission with geologist
Skylab 1 Saturn V Unmanned 14 May 1973 Earth orbit Success – Launch of Skylab space station
Skylab 2
Skylab 2
-Backup crew:-Support crew:*Robert L. Crippen*Richard H. Truly*Henry W. Hartsfield, Jr*William E. Thornton-Mission parameters:*Mass: 19,979 kg*Maximum Altitude: 440 km*Distance: 18,536,730.9 km...

Saturn 1B Charles "Pete" Conrad
Pete Conrad
Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. was an American naval officer, astronaut and engineer, and the third person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. He set an eight-day space endurance record along with command pilot Gordon Cooper on the Gemini 5 mission, and commanded the Gemini 11 mission...

, Paul Weitz
Paul J. Weitz
Paul Joseph Weitz is an American former astronaut who flew in space twice.-Personal data:Born in Erie, Pennsylvania, on July 25, 1932. Married to the former Suzanne M. Berry of Harborcreek, Pennsylvania. Two children: Matthew and Cynthia. Hunting and fishing are among his hobbies. His mother, Mrs...

, Joseph Kerwin
25 May 1973 Space station mission Success – Apollo spacecraft takes first US crew to Skylab, the first American space station, for a 28 day stay
Skylab 3
Skylab 3
Skylab 3 was the second manned mission to Skylab. The Skylab 3 mission started July 28, 1973, with the launch of three astronauts on the Saturn IB rocket, and lasted 59 days, 11 hours and 9 minutes...

Saturn 1B Alan Bean
Alan Bean
Alan LaVern Bean is a former NASA astronaut, engineer, and painter. Bean was selected to become an astronaut by NASA in 1963 as part of Astronaut Group 3. He made his first flight into space aboard Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, at the age of thirty-seven years in...

, Jack Lousma, Owen Garriott
28 July 1973 Space Station mission Success – Apollo spacecraft takes second US crew to the Skylab space station for a 59 day stay
Skylab 4
Skylab 4
Skylab 4 was the fourth Skylab mission and placed the third and final crew on board the space station. The mission started November 16, 1973 with the launch of three astronauts on a Saturn IB rocket, and lasted 84 days, 1 hour and 16 minutes...

Saturn 1B Gerald Carr, William Pogue, Edward Gibson
Edward Gibson
Edward George Gibson, PhD, is a former NASA astronaut, pilot, and engineer.Before becoming a NASA astronaut, Gibson graduated from the University of Rochester and the California Institute of Technology...

16 November 1973 Space station mission Success – Apollo spacecraft takes third US crew to the Skylab space station for an 84 day stay
ASTP
Apollo-Soyuz Test Project
-Backup crew:-Crew notes:Jack Swigert had originally been assigned as the command module pilot for the ASTP prime crew, but prior to the official announcement he was removed as punishment for his involvement in the Apollo 15 postage stamp scandal.-Soyuz crew:...

 (Apollo 18)
Saturn 1B Thomas P. Stafford, Vance D. Brand
Vance D. Brand
Vance DeVoe Brand is an engineer and former test pilot and NASA astronaut. He served as command module pilot during the first U.S.-Soviet joint space flight in 1975, and as commander of three space shuttle missions....

, Donald K. "Deke" Slayton
Deke Slayton
Donald Kent Slayton , better known as Deke Slayton, was an American World War II pilot and later, one of the original NASA Mercury Seven astronauts....

15 July 1975 Earth orbit Success – Apollo-Soyuz Test Project, in which an Apollo space craft conducted rendezvous and docking exercises with Soviet Soyuz 19 in space – sometimes referred to as "Apollo 18"
Planned Apollo 18, Apollo 19, and Apollo 20 Moon Missions
Cancelled Apollo missions
Several planned missions of the Apollo manned Moon landing program of the 1960s and 1970s were canceled for a variety of reasons, including changes in technical direction, the Apollo 1 fire, hardware delays, and budget limitations...

Saturn V Missions cancelled Never launched Lunar landings Cancelled – Several more missions (with detailed planning for up to Apollo 20) were cancelled


In total, twenty-four American astronauts have traveled to the Moon. Three have made the trip twice, and twelve have walked on its surface. Apollo 8 was a lunar-orbit-only mission, Apollo 10 included undocking and Descent Orbit Insertion (DOI), followed by LM staging to CSM redocking, while Apollo 13, originally scheduled as a landing, ended up as a lunar fly-by, by means of free return trajectory
Free return trajectory
A free return trajectory is one of a very small sub-class of trajectories in which the trajectory of a satellite traveling away from a primary body is modified by the presence of a secondary body causing the satellite to return to the primary body...

; thus, none of these missions made landings. Apollo 7 and Apollo 9 never left Earth orbit. Apart from the inherent dangers of manned Moon expeditions as seen with Apollo 13, one reason for their cessation according to astronaut Alan Bean
Alan Bean
Alan LaVern Bean is a former NASA astronaut, engineer, and painter. Bean was selected to become an astronaut by NASA in 1963 as part of Astronaut Group 3. He made his first flight into space aboard Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, at the age of thirty-seven years in...

 is the cost it imposes in government subsidies.

Manned Moon landings

Mission Name Lunar Lander Lunar landing date Lunar blastoff date Lunar landing site Duration on lunar surface Crew Number of EVA
Extra-vehicular activity
Extra-vehicular activity is work done by an astronaut away from the Earth, and outside of a spacecraft. The term most commonly applies to an EVA made outside a craft orbiting Earth , but also applies to an EVA made on the surface of the Moon...

s
Total EVA Time
Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

Eagle 20 July 1969 21 July 1969 Sea of Tranquility 21:31 Neil Armstrong
Neil Armstrong
Neil Alden Armstrong is an American former astronaut, test pilot, aerospace engineer, university professor, United States Naval Aviator, and the first person to set foot upon the Moon....

, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin
Buzz Aldrin is an American mechanical engineer, retired United States Air Force pilot and astronaut who was the Lunar Module pilot on Apollo 11, the first manned lunar landing in history...

1 2:31
Apollo 12
Apollo 12
Apollo 12 was the sixth manned flight in the American Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon . It was launched on November 14, 1969 from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11. Mission commander Charles "Pete" Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L...

Intrepid 19 November 1969 21 November 1969 Ocean of Storms 1 day, 7:31 Charles "Pete" Conrad
Pete Conrad
Charles "Pete" Conrad, Jr. was an American naval officer, astronaut and engineer, and the third person to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 12 mission. He set an eight-day space endurance record along with command pilot Gordon Cooper on the Gemini 5 mission, and commanded the Gemini 11 mission...

, Alan Bean
Alan Bean
Alan LaVern Bean is a former NASA astronaut, engineer, and painter. Bean was selected to become an astronaut by NASA in 1963 as part of Astronaut Group 3. He made his first flight into space aboard Apollo 12, the second manned mission to land on the Moon, at the age of thirty-seven years in...

2 7:45
Apollo 14
Apollo 14
Apollo 14 was the eighth manned mission in the American 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....

Antares 5 February 1971 6 February 1971 Fra Mauro
Fra Mauro formation
The Fra Mauro formation is a lunar geological formation on the near side of the Moon that served as the landing site for the American Apollo 14 mission in 1971. It is named after the 80-kilometer-diameter crater Fra Mauro, located within it...

1 day, 9:30 Alan B. Shepard, Edgar Mitchell 2 9:21
Apollo 15
Apollo 15
Apollo 15 was the ninth manned mission in the American Apollo space 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 duration stays on the Moon with a greater focus on science than had been possible on previous...

Falcon 30 July 1971 3 August 1971 Hadley Rille 2 days, 18:55 David Scott
David Scott
David Randolph Scott is an American engineer, test pilot, retired U.S. Air Force officer, and former NASA astronaut and engineer, who was one of the third group of astronauts selected by NASA in October 1963...

, James Irwin
James Irwin
James Benson Irwin was an American astronaut and engineer. He served as Lunar Module pilot for Apollo 15, the fourth human lunar landing; he was the eighth person to walk on the Moon.-Early life:...

3 18:33
Apollo 16
Apollo 16
Young and Duke served as the backup crew for Apollo 13; Mattingly was slated to be the Apollo 13 command module pilot until being pulled from the mission due to his exposure to rubella through Duke.-Backup crew:...

Orion 21 April 1972 24 April 1972 Descartes Highlands
Descartes Highlands
The Descartes Highlands is an area of lunar highlands located on the near side that served as the landing site of the American Apollo 16 mission in early 1972...

2 days, 23:02 John Young, Charles Duke 3 20:14
Apollo 17
Apollo 17
Apollo 17 was the eleventh and final manned mission in the American Apollo space program. Launched at 12:33 a.m. EST on December 7, 1972, with a three-member crew consisting of Commander Eugene Cernan, Command Module Pilot Ronald Evans, and Lunar Module Pilot Harrison Schmitt, Apollo 17 remains the...

Challenger 11 December 1972 14 December 1972 Taurus-Littrow
Taurus-Littrow (lunar valley)
Taurus–Littrow is a lunar valley located on the near side at the coordinates . It served as the landing site for the American Apollo 17 mission in December 1972, the last manned mission to the Moon to date....

3 days, 2:59 Eugene Cernan, Harrison H. "Jack" Schmitt
Harrison Schmitt
Harrison Hagan "Jack" Schmitt is an American geologist, a retired NASA astronaut, university professor, and a former U.S. senator from New Mexico....

3 22:04

Other aspects of the Apollo Moon landings

Unlike other international rivalries, the Space Race has remained unaffected in a direct way regarding the desire for territorial expansion. After the successful landings on the Moon, the U.S. explicitly disclaimed the right to ownership of any part of the Moon.

President Richard Nixon had speechwriter William Safire
William Safire
William Lewis Safire was an American author, columnist, journalist and presidential speechwriter....

 prepare a condolence speech for delivery in the event that Armstrong and Aldrin became marooned on the Moon's surface and could not be rescued.

In the 1940s writer Arthur C. Clarke
Arthur C. Clarke
Sir Arthur Charles Clarke, CBE, FRAS was a British science fiction author, inventor, and futurist, famous for his short stories and novels, among them 2001: A Space Odyssey, and as a host and commentator in the British television series Mysterious World. For many years, Robert A. Heinlein,...

 forecast that man would reach the Moon by 2000.

On 16 August 2006, the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 reported that NASA is missing the original Slow-scan television
Slow-scan television
Slow-scan television is a picture transmission method used mainly by amateur radio operators, to transmit and receive static pictures via radio in monochrome or color.A technical term for SSTV is narrowband television...

 tapes (which were made before the scan conversion for conventional TV) of the Apollo 11 Moon walk. Some news outlets have mistakenly reported that the SSTV tapes were found in Western Australia, but those tapes were only recordings of data from the Apollo 11 Early Apollo Surface Experiments Package.

20th–21st century unmanned crash landings

Hiten (Japan)

At the end of its mission, the Japanese lunar orbiter Hiten
Hiten
The Hiten Spacecraft , given the English name Celestial Maiden and known before launch as MUSES-A , part of the MUSES Program, was built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan and launched on January 24, 1990...

 was commanded to crash into the lunar surface and did so on 10 April 1993 at 18:03:25.7 UT (11 April 03:03:25.7 JST).

SMART-1 (ESA)

At the end of its mission, the ESA
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency , established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organisation dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 18 member states...

 lunar orbiter SMART-1
SMART-1
SMART-1 was a Swedish-designed European Space Agency satellite that orbited around the Moon. It was launched on September 27, 2003 at 23:14 UTC from the Guiana Space Centre in Kourou, French Guiana. "SMART" stands for Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology...

 performed a controlled crash into the Moon, at about 2 km/sec. The time of the crash was 3 September 2006, at 5:42 UT.

Chandrayaan-1 (India)

Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor...

-1 was India
India
India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

's first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation
Indian Space Research Organisation
The Indian Space Research Organisation is an independent Indian governmental agency established in 1969 for the research and development of vehicles and activities for the exploration of space within and outside of Earth’s atmosphere. Headquartered in Bangalore...

 (ISRO) in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission, including a lunar orbiter and an impactor, was launched by a modified version of the PSLV, PSLV C11
Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle
The Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle , commonly known by its abbreviation PSLV, is an expendable launch system developed and operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation . It was developed to allow India to launch its Indian Remote Sensing satellites into sun synchronous orbits, a service that...

 on 22 October 2008 from Satish Dhawan Space Centre
Satish Dhawan Space Centre
The Satish Dhawan Space Centre is the launch centre for the Indian Space Research Organisation . It is located in Sriharikota, Andhra Pradesh, India, north of Chennai in South India. It was originally called Sriharikota High Altitude Range , and was sometime known as Sriharikota Launching Range...

, Sriharikota
Sriharikota
Sriharikota is a barrier island off the coast of the southern state of Andhra Pradesh in India. It houses India's only satellite launch centre in the Satish Dhawan Space Centre and is used by the Indian Space Research Organisation to launch satellites using multi-stage rockets such as the Polar...

, Nellore District
Nellore district
Sri Amarajeevi Potti Sri Ramulu Nellore District is one of the 23 districts of Andhra Pradesh. Nellore is famous for high paddy field, and so it got its name from "Nelli". The population of the district was 2,966,082 of which 22.45% were urban as of 2011....

, Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh
Andhra Pradesh , is one of the 28 states of India, situated on the southeastern coast of India. It is India's fourth largest state by area and fifth largest by population. Its capital and largest city by population is Hyderabad.The total GDP of Andhra Pradesh is $100 billion and is ranked third...

, about 80 km north of Chennai
Chennai
Chennai , formerly known as Madras or Madarasapatinam , is the capital city of the Indian state of Tamil Nadu, located on the Coromandel Coast off the Bay of Bengal. Chennai is the fourth most populous metropolitan area and the sixth most populous city in India...

, at 06:22 IST (00:52 UTC). The mission was a major boost to India's space program, as India researched and developed its own technology in order to explore the Moon. The vehicle was successfully inserted into lunar orbit on 8 November 2008, and the impactor, the Moon Impact Probe
Moon Impact Probe
The Moon Impact Probe developed by the Indian Space Research Organisation , India's national space agency, was a lunar probe that was released by ISRO's Chandrayaan-1 lunar remote sensing orbiter which in turn was launched, on 22 October 2008, aboard a modified version of ISRO's Polar Satellite...

, impacted near Shackleton
Shackleton (crater)
Shackleton is an impact crater that lies at the south pole of the Moon. The peaks along the crater's rim are exposed to almost continual sunlight, while the interior is perpetually in shadow. The low-temperature interior of this crater functions as a cold trap that may capture and freeze volatiles...

 Crater at the south pole of the lunar surface at 14 November 2008, 20:31 IST. The estimated cost for the project was 3.86 billion Indian rupees (US$80 million).

Weighing 34 kilograms, the box shaped impactor carried three instruments—a video imaging system, a mass spectrometer and a radar altimeter. The video imaging system took pictures of the Moon’s surface from high altitudes, relaying those pictures back to Earth during the descent. The mass spectrometer made measurements of the extremely thin lunar atmosphere. The radar altimeter measured the rate of descent of the probe to the lunar surface, testing that technology for future soft landing missions. The probe did not include braking rockets and was destroyed upon impacting the lunar surface at its planned speed of 5000 kilometres per hour (3,106.9 mph).

The orbiter completed 3,000 orbits acquiring 70,000 images of the lunar surface. They were first transmitted to Indian Deep Space Network
Indian Deep Space Network
The Indian Deep Space Network is a network of large antennas and communication facilities that supports the interplanetary spacecraft missions of India. It is located at Byalalu, a village about 100 km from Bangalore, India. It was officially inaugurated on 17 October 2008 by ISRO chairman...

 at Byalalu
Byalalu
Byalalu is a village in Bangalore Rural District in Karnataka, India. It is an hour's drive from Bangalore city, off the Bangalore-Mysore highway. The population was reported as 1,187 in the 2001 Indian census....

 near Bangalore
Bangalore
Bengaluru , formerly called Bengaluru is the capital of the Indian state of Karnataka. Bangalore is nicknamed the Garden City and was once called a pensioner's paradise. Located on the Deccan Plateau in the south-eastern part of Karnataka, Bangalore is India's third most populous city and...

, and then to the Indian Space Research Organisation Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network
Indian Space Research Organisation Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network
The Indian Space Research Organization , over the years, established a comprehensive network of ground stations to provide Telemetry, Tracking and Command support to satellite and launch vehicle missions...

 at Bangalore. ISRO claims that the landing sites of the Apollo Moon missions have been mapped by the orbiter using multiple payloads. Six of the sites have been mapped including that of Apollo 11
Apollo 11
In early 1969, Bill Anders accepted a job with the National Space Council effective in August 1969 and announced his retirement as an astronaut. At that point Ken Mattingly was moved from the support crew into parallel training with Anders as backup Command Module Pilot in case Apollo 11 was...

, the first mission that brought humans on the Moon.

The Moon Mineralogy Mapper
Moon Mineralogy Mapper
The Moon Mineralogy Mapper is one of two instruments that NASA contributed to India's first mission to the Moon, Chandrayaan-1, launched October 22, 2008...

 instrument, provided by NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

, confirmed the presence of water on the Moon. This was also confirmed by the mass spectrometer on the MIP.

Chang'e 1 (China)

The Chinese lunar orbiter Chang'e 1 executed a controlled crash onto the surface of the Moon on 1 March 2009, 2044 GMT, after a 16-month mission.

US orbital missions since 2009

The most recent lunar mission has been the NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission. The Lunar Precursor Robotic Program (LPRP) is a program of robotic spacecraft
Robotic spacecraft
A robotic spacecraft is a spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe. Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to...

 missions which NASA
NASA
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

 will use to prepare for future human spaceflight
Human spaceflight
Human spaceflight is spaceflight with humans on the spacecraft. When a spacecraft is manned, it can be piloted directly, as opposed to machine or robotic space probes and remotely-controlled satellites....

 missions to the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

. Two missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
The Lunar Precursor Robotic Program is a program of robotic spacecraft missions which NASA will use to prepare for future human spaceflight missions to the Moon. Two LPRP missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite , were launched in June 2009...

 (LRO) and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (or LCROSS), originally planned to be launched in October 2008, but was launched on 18 June 2009.

Other moon landings

Progress in space exploration
Space exploration
Space exploration is the use of space technology to explore outer space. Physical exploration of space is conducted both by human spaceflights and by robotic spacecraft....

 has recently broadened the phrase moon landing to include other moons in the solar system
Solar System
The Solar System consists of the Sun and the astronomical objects gravitationally bound in orbit around it, all of which formed from the collapse of a giant molecular cloud approximately 4.6 billion years ago. The vast majority of the system's mass is in the Sun...

 as well. The Huygens probe of the Cassini mission to Saturn
Saturn
Saturn is the sixth planet from the Sun and the second largest planet in the Solar System, after Jupiter. Saturn is named after the Roman god Saturn, equated to the Greek Cronus , the Babylonian Ninurta and the Hindu Shani. Saturn's astronomical symbol represents the Roman god's sickle.Saturn,...

 performed a successful unmanned moon landing on Titan
Titan (moon)
Titan , or Saturn VI, is the largest moon of Saturn, the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere, and the only object other than Earth for which clear evidence of stable bodies of surface liquid has been found....

 in 2005. Similarly, the Soviet probe Phobos 2 came within 120 miles (193.1 km) of performing an unmanned moon landing on Mars
Mars
Mars is the fourth planet from the Sun in the Solar System. The planet is named after the Roman god of war, Mars. It is often described as the "Red Planet", as the iron oxide prevalent on its surface gives it a reddish appearance...

' moon Phobos
Phobos (moon)
Phobos is the larger and closer of the two natural satellites of Mars. Both moons were discovered in 1877. With a mean radius of , Phobos is 7.24 times as massive as Deimos...

 in 1989 before radio
Radio
Radio is the transmission of signals through free space by modulation of electromagnetic waves with frequencies below those of visible light. Electromagnetic radiation travels by means of oscillating electromagnetic fields that pass through the air and the vacuum of space...

 contact with that lander was suddenly lost. A similar Russian sample return mission called Phobos-Grunt
Phobos-Grunt
Fobos-Grunt or Phobos-Grunt was an attempted Russian sample return mission to Phobos, one of the moons of Mars. It was launched on 9 November 2011 at 02:16 local time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, but subsequent rocket burns intended to set the craft on a course for Mars failed, leaving it...

 ("grunt" means "soil" in Russian) is scheduled for launch in early 2012. There is widespread interest in performing a future moon landing on Jupiter
Jupiter
Jupiter is the fifth planet from the Sun and the largest planet within the Solar System. It is a gas giant with mass one-thousandth that of the Sun but is two and a half times the mass of all the other planets in our Solar System combined. Jupiter is classified as a gas giant along with Saturn,...

's moon Europa
Europa (moon)
Europa Slightly smaller than Earth's Moon, Europa is primarily made of silicate rock and probably has an iron core. It has a tenuous atmosphere composed primarily of oxygen. Its surface is composed of ice and is one of the smoothest in the Solar System. This surface is striated by cracks and...

 to drill down and explore the possible liquid water ocean beneath its icy surface.

Proposed future missions

The most recently launched lunar orbiter is China's Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2
Chang'e 2 is a Chinese unmanned lunar probe that was launched on 1 October 2010. It was a follow-up to the Chang'e 1 lunar probe, which was launched in 2007. Chang'e 2 was part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, and conducted research from a 100-kilometer-high lunar orbit...

, which was launched in early October 2010. China is also planning to land motorized rovers and collect samples in the Chang'e 3
Chang'e 3
Chang'e 3 is a Chinese lunar exploration mission, incorporating a robotic lander and rover. Scheduled for launch in 2013 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, it will be China's first lunar rover, and the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the Moon since the...

 and Chang'e 4 missions and return lunar soil samples by 2018.

Russia's Luna-Glob 1
Luna-Glob
Luna-Glob is the name of a Moon-exploration program by the Russian Federal Space Agency based on plans dating back to 1997. Due to financial problems, however, the project was put on hold only to be revived a few years later. Initially scheduled for launch in 2012, the mission has been brought...

 expected to be launched in 2012. In 2007 the head of the Russian Space Agency announced plans to send cosmonauts to the Moon by 2025 and establish a permanent manned base there in 2027–2032.

ISRO, the Indian National Space agency, is planning a second version of Chandrayaan named Chandrayaan 2. According to former ISRO Chairman G. Madhavan Nair
G. Madhavan Nair
G. Madhavan Nair is the former Chairman of Indian Space Research Organisation and Secretary to the Department of Space, Government of India since September 2003. He is also the Chairman, Space Commission and acts as the Chairman of Governing Body of the Antrix Corporation, Bangalore...

, "The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) hopes to land two motorised rovers – one Indian and another Russian – on the Moon in 2013, as a part of its second Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first unmanned lunar probe. It was launched by the Indian Space Research Organisation in October 2008, and operated until August 2009. The mission included a lunar orbiter and an impactor...

 mission. The rover will be designed to move on wheels on the lunar surface, pick up samples of soil or rocks, do on-site chemical analysis and send the data to the mother-spacecraft Chandrayaan II, which will be orbiting above. Chandrayaan II will transmit the data to Earth." The payloads have already been finalized. ISRO has mentioned that due to weight restrictions it will not be carrying any overseas payloads on this mission. The lander weight is projected to be 1,250 kg, and the spacecraft will be launched by the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle
The Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle is an expendable launch system operated by the Indian Space Research Organisation...

.

The Google Lunar X Prize
Google Lunar X Prize
The Google Lunar X PRIZE, abbreviated GLXP, sometimes referred to as Moon 2.0, is a space competition organized by the X Prize Foundation, and sponsored by Google. It was announced at the Wired Nextfest on 13 September 2007...

 competition offers a $20 million award for the first privately funded team to land a robotic probe on the Moon. Like the Ansari X Prize
Ansari X Prize
The Ansari X Prize was a space competition in which the X Prize Foundation offered a US$10,000,000 prize for the first non-government organization to launch a reusable manned spacecraft into space twice within two weeks...

 before it, the competition aims to advance the state of the art in private space exploration.

Hoax accusations

Some people insist that the Apollo Moon landings were a hoax. Their accusations flourish in part because enthusiastic predictions that Moon landings would become commonplace have not yet come to pass. However, empirical
Empiricism
Empiricism is a theory of knowledge that asserts that knowledge comes only or primarily via sensory experience. One of several views of epistemology, the study of human knowledge, along with rationalism, idealism and historicism, empiricism emphasizes the role of experience and evidence,...

 evidence is readily available to show that manned moon landings did indeed occur. Anyone on Earth with an appropriate laser
Laser
A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

 and telescope
Telescope
A telescope is an instrument that aids in the observation of remote objects by collecting electromagnetic radiation . The first known practical telescopes were invented in the Netherlands at the beginning of the 1600s , using glass lenses...

 system can bounce laser beams off three retroreflector
Retroreflector
A retroreflector is a device or surface that reflects light back to its source with a minimum scattering of light. An electromagnetic wave front is reflected back along a vector that is parallel to but opposite in direction from the wave's source. The device or surface's angle of incidence is...

 arrays left on the Moon by Apollo 11, 14 and 15, verifying deployment of the Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment
Lunar laser ranging experiment
The ongoing Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment measures the distance between the Earth and the Moon using laser ranging. Lasers on Earth are aimed at retroreflectors planted on the moon during the Apollo program, and the time for the reflected light to return is determined...

 at historically documented Apollo Moon landing sites and so proving equipment constructed on Earth was successfully transported to the surface of the Moon. In addition, in August 2009 NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
The Lunar Precursor Robotic Program is a program of robotic spacecraft missions which NASA will use to prepare for future human spaceflight missions to the Moon. Two LPRP missions, the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite , were launched in June 2009...

 began to send back high resolution photos of the Apollo landing sites. These photos show not only the large Descent Stages of the lunar landers left behind but also tracks of the astronauts' walking paths in the lunar dust.

See also

  • Apollo 11 missing tapes
  • Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space
    Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space
    Buzz Aldrin's Race Into Space, frequently abbreviated BARIS, is a space simulation and strategy game for MS-DOS. The player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or head of the Soviet space program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing...

  • Robert Goddard
  • Lunokhod program
  • Project Apollo
    Project Apollo
    The Apollo program was the spaceflight effort carried out by the United States' National Aeronautics and Space Administration , that landed the first humans on Earth's Moon. Conceived during the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Apollo began in earnest after President John F...

  • Soviet Moonshot
    Soviet Moonshot
    The Soviet manned lunar programs were a series of programs pursued by the Soviet Union to land a man on the Moon in competition with the United States Apollo program to achieve the same goal set publicly by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961...

  • Luna programme
    Luna programme
    The Luna programme , occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration...

  • Lunar Escape Systems
    Lunar Escape Systems
    Lunar Escape Systems were a series of emergency vehicles designed for never-flown long-duration Apollo missions. Because these missions were even more hypothetical than the planned cancelled Apollo missions, the designs were never constructed.-Details:...

  • Soyuz 7K-L1
    Soyuz 7K-L1
    The Soyuz 7K-L1 spacecraft was designed to launch men from the Earth to circle the Moon without going into lunar orbit in the context of the Soviet manned moon-flyby program in Moon race. It was based on the Soyuz 7K-OK with several components stripped out to reduce the vehicle weight...

  • Third-party evidence for Apollo Moon landings
  • Zond program
    Zond program
    Zond was the name given to two distinct series of Soviet unmanned space program undertaken from 1964 to 1970. The first series based on 3MV planetary probe was intended to gather information about nearby planets...


External links

  • NASA's page on moon landings, missions, etc. (includes information on other space agencies' missions.)
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