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Missions to the Moon

Active missions: Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter - Chang'e 2 - LADEEChang'e 3

Future missions: Chang'e 4 - Luna-Glob 1 - Chandrayaan-2 - Chang'e 5 - Luna-Glob 2 

Past missions: Pioneer 0 - Luna 1958A - Pioneer 1 - Luna 1958B - Pioneer 2 - Luna1958C - Pioneer 3 - Luna 1 - Luna 1959A - Pioneer 4 - Luna 2 - Luna 3 - Pioneer P-3 - Ranger 1 - Ranger 2 - Ranger 3 - Ranger 4 - Ranger 5 - Sputnik 25 - Luna 4 - Ranger 6 - Ranger 7 - Ranger 8 - Ranger 9 - Luna 5 - Luna 6 - Zond 3 - Luna 7 - Luna 8 - Luna 9 - Cosmos 111 - Luna 10 - Surveyor 1 - Lunar Orbiter 1 - Luna 11 - Surveyor 2 - Luna 12 - Lunar Orbiter 2 - Luna 13 - Lunar Orbiter 3 - Surveyor 3 - Lunar Orbiter 4 - Surveyor 4 - Lunar Orbiter 5 - Surveyor 5 - Surveyor 6 - Surveyor 7 - Luna 14 - Zond 5 - Zond 6 - Apollo 8 - Zond 1969A - Luna 1969A - Zond L1S-1 - Luna 1969B - Apollo 10 - Luna 1969C - Luna 15 - Apollo 11 - Zond 7 - Cosmos 300 - Cosmos 305 - Apollo 12 - Apollo 13 - Luna 16 - Zond 8 - Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1 - Apollo 14 - Apollo 15 - Luna 18 - Luna 19 - Luna 20 - Apollo 16 - Soyuz L3 - Apollo 17 - Luna 21 / Lunokhod 2 - Luna 22 - Luna 23 - Luna 24 - Hiten (MUSES A) - Clementine - Lunar Prospector - SMART-1 - Kaguya (SELENE) - Chang'e 1 - Chandrayaan-1LCROSS - GRAIL

Active Missions

Chang'e 3 lunar lander and rover
Chang'e 3

Lunar orbiter and rover (CNSA, China)

Launch: 1 Dec 2013. Orbit insertion: 6 Dec 2013. Rover landing: 14 Dec 2013.

Chang'e 3 is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, consisting of a robotic lander and China's first lunar rover.

Links: Blog posts about Chang'e 3 - Wikipedia -

LADEE above the lunar surface
LADEE (Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer)

Lunar orbiter (NASA)

Launch: 7 Sep 2013. Orbit insertion: 6 Oct 2013. Ongoing.

LADEE is designed to orbit around the Moon's equator to study the lunar exosphere and dust. 

Links: Blog posts about Chang'e 3 - Wikipedia -

Chang'e 1
Chang'e 2 嫦娥二号

Lunar orbiter (CNSA, China)

Launch: 1 Oct 2010. Orbit insertion: 6 Oct 2010. Departed lunar orbit: 8 Jun 2011. Arrived at Sun-Earth L2: 25 Aug 2011.

Chang'e 2 was a backup to Chang'e 1.

Links: Blog posts about Chang'e 2NSSDC - Wikipedia - -

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter
Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Lunar orbiter (NASA)

Launch: 18 Jun 2009. Orbit insertion: 23 Jun 2009. Ongoing.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter was NASA's first mission designed to capture high-resolution images of the entire surface of the Moon since the end of the Lunar Orbiter program in 1967.

Links: Blog posts about LROLROC (ASU) - GSFC - KSC - NSSDC - Wikipedia

Future Missions

Chang'e 4

Lunar orbiter and rover (CNSA, China)

Launch: Planned for 2015.

Chang'e 4 is part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program, consisting of a robotic lander and a lunar rover. It was built as a backup to Chang'e 3.

Links: Wikipedia

Luna-Glob 1

Lunar orbiter and rover (Roscosmos, Russia)

Launch: Planned for 2016.

Luna-Glob 1 is an unmanned mission consisting of an orbiter with four Japanese-built ground penetrating sensors inherited from Lunar-A.

Links: Wikipedia


Lunar orbiter and rover (ISRO, India)

Launch: Planned for late 2016/early 2017.

Chandrayaan-2 is India's second lunar mission, consisting of an orbiter and rover, which will perform in-situ analysis of rock and soil samples. The rover portion of the mission was originally slated to be the Russian Luna-Glob 2, but Roscosmos withdrew in the wake of the Phobos-Grunt failure due to technical aspects shared with Luna-Glob, and ISRO continued development on their own rover separately.

Links: Wikipedia

Chang'e 5

Lunar orbiter and lander (CNSA, China)

Launch: Planned for 2017.

Chang'e 5 is planned to be China's first lunar sample return mission, consisting of an orbiter and lander.

Links: Wikipedia

Luna-Glob 2

Lunar orbiter, rover, and lander (Roscosmos, Russia)

Launch: Planned for 2018.

Luna-Glob 2 is a joint orbiter-rover mission featuring a Russian Polar Moon Rover and lander as part of the International Lunar Network. The proposed landing site is the lunar south pole. The orbiter portion of the mission was originally slated to be the ISRO Chandrayaan-2, but Roscosmos withdrew after the failure of the Phobos-Grunt mission due to technical aspects shared with Luna-Glob.

Links: Wikipedia

Past Missions

GRAIL (Ebb and Flow)

Twin lunar orbiters (NASA)

Launch: 10 Sep 2011. Orbit insertion: 31 Dec 2011 (Ebb), 1 Jan 2012 (Flow). Lunar impact: 17 December 2012

Links: Blog posts about GRAILMoonKAM - NASA - KSC - NSSDC - Wikipedia

GRAIL's twin spacecraft flew in tandem orbits around the Moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail. Upon completion of their mission, the spacecraft were intentionally crashed near the moon's north pole. 

LCROSS (Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite)

Lunar impactors (NASA)
Launch: 18 Jun 2009. Lunar impact: 9 Oct 2009.

LCROSS launched aboard the same rocket as Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. After launch, the LCROSS shepherding spacecraft separated from the upper stage of its launch vehicle, which was directed toward an impact into a permanently shadowed crater, Cabeus, near the lunar south pole. After watching the impact, the shepherding spacecraft also crashed into the lunar pole, an event that was watched by other orbiters and ground-based observatories.

Links: Blog posts about LCROSSNASA - NSSDC - Wikipedia


Lunar orbiter (ISRO, India)
Launch: October 22, 2008
Lunar orbit insertion: November 8, 2008
Moon Impact Probe released: November 14, 2008
Contact lost: August 29, 2009
Chandrayaan-1 was India's first satellite to leave Earth orbit. The mission was intended to expand the capabilities of India's space agency, ISRO, as well as to accomplish science goals such as mapping radioactive isotopes across the Moon. The mission's budget included the establishment of the first Indian deep space radio communications antenna.

Links: Blog posts about Chandrayaan-1 - ISRONSSDC - Wikipedia

Chang'e 1

Lunar orbiter (CNSA, China)
Launched: October 24, 2007
Lunar orbit: November 5, 2007

Chang'e 1 is China's first mission beyond Earth orbit. It is intended to expand the capabilities of China's space program, as well as to develop a topographic map of the Moon; map the composition of the Moon; measure the depth of the lunar soil; and observe the space environment between the Moon and Earth.

Links: Blog posts about Chang'e 1 - NSSDC - Wikipedia

Kaguya (SELENE)

Lunar orbiter (JAXA, Japan)
Launched: September 14, 2007
Lunar orbit: October 3, 2007
Crashed into Moon: June 10, 2009
Kaguya, also known as SELENE (SELenological and ENgineering Explorer), consisted of three spacecraft (a main orbiter and two much smaller satellites, Okina and Ouna), which created the most detailed map of the Moon's gravity field yet acquired. It carried an HDTV camera for obtaining HD movies of Moon and Earth.

Links: Blog posts about Kaguya (SELENE) - NSSDC - Wikipedia - JAXA


Successful first ESA lunar orbiter (ESA)
Launched: September 27, 2003
Lunar orbit: November 15, 2004
Crashed into Moon: September 3, 2006
SMART-1 was powered only by an ion (solar-electric) engine and is the first of the European Space Agency's Small Missions for Advanced Research in Technology, a program to develop a new breed of spacecraft that will demonstrate and test innovative technologies for future deep space missions.

Links: Blog posts about SMART-1 - NSSDC - Wikipedia - ESA

Lunar Prospector

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: January 7, 1998
Lunar Prospector was designed to go into a low polar orbit around the Moon and search for water ice and other minerals in the dark areas of craters that get very little, if any sunlight. During its 19 month mission, Lunar Prospector completed a map of the Moon's surface composition. On July 31, 1999, mission controllers crashed the spacecraft into a crater near the south pole. Observers from Earth watched for any signs of water vapor that might have been released during the impact, but none was seen.

Links: Blog posts about Lunar Prospector - NSSDC - Wikipedia - NASA


Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: April 25, 1994
Clementine was launched by the United States Department of Defense to demonstrate new technologies. The spacecraft flew by Earth twice during the first month of its mission before going into orbit around the Moon. Once in lunar orbit, Clementine began its primary 70-day mapping mission. Then, the spacecraft entered a circumlunar orbit and was to have flown on to an encounter with the asteroid Geographos in July, 1994. However, a malfunctioning thruster depleted all of its maneuvering fuel and the spacecraft was stuck in Earth orbit. It lost power in June 1994, after studying the Van Allen radiation belts.

Links: Blog posts about Clementine - NSSDC - Wikipedia - USNRL

Hiten / Muses A

Successful lunar trajectory test (Japan)
Launched: January. 24, 1990
Hiten was launched into a highly elliptical Earth orbit that took it past the Moon 10 times. It released Hagoromo, a small spacecraft that was to go into lunar orbit, but its transmitter failed before it reached the Moon. The Japanese used Hiten to test various technologies for future lunar missions. The spacecraft was intentionally crashed into the moon on April 10, 1993.

Luna 24

Successful lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: August 9, 1976
Lunar landing: August 18, 1976
Returned to Earth: August 22, 1976
Luna 24 softlanded in the Sea of Crises. The spacecraft collected 170g of lunar dust and rocks and returned to Earth.

Luna 23

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: October 28, 1974
Designed as a sample return mission, Luna 23 was damaged during its moon landing on November 6, 1974 and was unable to collect samples. The spacecraft transmitted data for 3 days before falling silent.

Luna 22

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: May 29, 1974
Lunar landing: June 2, 1974
During its mission, the spacecraft studied the Moon's magnetic field, gamma ray emissions and gravitational field. The mission ended in November of 1975.  

Luna 21 / Lunokhod 2

Successful lunar rover (USSR)
Launched: January. 8, 1973
Lunar landing: January 15, 1973
The rover first took a panoramic shot of the landing site, before it rolled off of its protective shell and onto the lunar surface. The rover was powered by solar panels and kept warm at night by a radioactive heat source. The mission lasted 4 months, during which it took over 80,000 TV pictures and covered 37 kilometers (22 miles) of lunar terrain.

Apollo 17

Successful manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: December 7, 1972
Lunar landing: December 11, 1972
Return to Earth: December 19, 1972
While astronaut Ronald Evans orbited overhead, Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landed in the Taurus-Littrow region on the Moon. Schmitt was the first geologist to land on the Moon. Cernan and Schmitt drove 30 kilometers (18 miles) in their lunar rover, collected 110 kg (242 lb) of samples and spend 75 hours on the lunar surface. Apollo 17 brought to a close the human exploration of the Moon - to date.

Soyuz L3

Failure lunar orbiter and test vehicle (USSR)
Launched: November 23, 1972
Soyuz L3 was designed to test a soyez capsule that was to function as the base for a lunar lander. 90 seconds after launch, 6 of the 30 engines shut down, triggering a catastrophic failure of the launch vehicle.  

Apollo 16

Successful manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: April 16, 1972
Lunar landing: April 21, 1972
Returned to Earth: April 27, 1972
While astronaut Thomas Mattingly orbited overhead, John Young and Charles Duke landed in the Descartes region on the Moon. Apollo 16 carried a lunar rover that astronauts drove 27 kilometers (16 miles). They were on the lunar surface for 71 hours and collected almost 95 kg (209 lb) of samples.

Luna 20

Successful lunar sample return  (USSR)
Launched: February 14, 1972
Lunar landing: February 21, 1972
Returned to Earth: February 25, 1972
Luna 20 soft landed in the Apollonius highlands near the Sea of Fertility. The spacecraft collected samples and then lifted off the next day. The sealed capsule containing 30 grams of lunar rocks and dust landed in the Soviet Union and was retrieved the following day.  

Luna 19

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: September 28, 1971
Lunar orbit: October 3, 1971
Luna 19 studied the lunar environment, including: lunar radiation levels, mass concentrations, the solar wind, etc.

Luna 18

Failed lunar landing (USSR)
Launched: September 2, 1971
Lunar orbit: September 7, 1971
After completing 54 orbits of the Moon, the spacecraft fired its braking thrusters and began its descent to the lunar surface. Communications were lost when the spacecraft impacted with the surface.

Apollo 15

Successful manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: July 26, 1971
Lunar landing: July 30, 1971
Returned to Earth: August 7, 1971.
While astronaut James Irwin orbited overhead, David Scott and Alfred Worden landed on the Moon in the Hadley Rille region. Apollo 15 was the first lander to carry a lunar rover. The astronauts drove the rover almost 28 kilometers (17 miles). The astronauts were on the lunar surface for almost 67 hours and collected 77 kg (169 lb) of samples.

Apollo 14

Successful manned landing on the Moon (USA)
Launched: Jan. 31, 1971
Lunar landing: February 5, 1971
Returned to Earth: February 9, 1971
While astronaut Stuart Roosa orbited overhead, Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell landed on the Moon. Apollo 14 touched down in the Fra Mauro highlands, the original landing for Apollo 13. The astronauts were on the lunar surface for 33 hours and collected 42 kg (94 lb) of samples.

Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1

Successful lunar rover (USSR)
Launched: November 10, 1970
Lunar landing: November 15, 1970
Luna 17 soft landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains. Two ramps extended away from the spacecraft, allowing the Lunokhod rover to roll onto the lunar terrain. Over the course of 11 lunar cycles, the remote controlled rover traveled over 10.5 kilometers (6 miles) and sent back 20,000 television pictures of the lunar landscape. The rover was officially shut down on October 4, 1971.  

Zond 8

Successful lunar flyby and back (USSR)
Launched: October 20, 1970
Lunar flyby: October 24, 1970
Earth landing: October 27, 1970
Zond 8 flew to the Moon and back, taking color pictures of the Earth and lunar surface along the way. The spacecraft splashed down in the Indian Ocean.

Luna 16

Successful lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: September 12, 1970
Lunar landing: September 20, 1970
Returned to Earth: September 24, 1970
Luna 16 was the first robotic mission to land on the Moon, collect samples of dust and rock, and return those samples to Earth. Luna 16 was also the first spacecraft to land in the lunar darkness. The spacecraft landed in the Sea of Fertility. After collecting dust and rock samples, the spacecraft was launched back into space 26 hours later. It returned to Earth with a soft landing on bringing back 101 grams of Moon rocks.

Apollo 13

Failed manned Moon Landing (USA)
Launched: April 11, 1970
When Apollo 13 was half way to the Moon, an explosion in the spacecraft's Service Module required mission control to cancel the scheduled Moon landing and focus on bringing astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise and John Swigert safely home. The mission was called a successful failure. While they failed to land on the Moon, the men did return home safely.

Apollo 12

Successful manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: November 14, 1969
Lunar landing: November 19 1969
Returned to Earth: November 24, 1969
While astronaut Richard Gordon orbited overhead, Charles Conrad and Alan Bean landed on the Moon. Apollo 12 touched down in the Ocean of Storms, within walking distance of Surveyor 3. The astronauts were on the lunar surface for 31.5 hours and collected 34 kg (75 lb) of samples.

Cosmos 305

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: October 22, 1969
The spacecraft's rocket failed once it had reached Earth orbit and it was unable to continue on to the Moon.  

Cosmos 300

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: September 23, 1969
The spacecraft reached Earth orbit, but then its rocket failed and the spacecraft was unable to continue on to the Moon.  

Zond 7

Successful lunar flyby and back (USSR)
Launched: August 7 (or 8), 1969
Earth landing August 14, 1969
Zond 7 flew to the Moon and back, taking color pictures of the Earth and lunar surface along the way. The spacecraft soft-landed in Zazakhstan.

Apollo 11

Successful first manned lunar landing (USA)
Launched: July 16, 1969
Lunar landing: July 20, 1969
While astronaut Michael Collins orbited overhead, Neil Armstrong and Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin became the first men to land on the Moon, within the Sea of Tranquility. They remained on the lunar surface for a little over 21 hours and collected 20 kg (44 lb) of samples. Apollo 11 returned to Earth on July 24, 1969, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.

Luna 15

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: July 13, 1969
Luna 15 was launched in a veil of secrecy only three days before Apollo 11. The Soviets did not reveal the target or mission of Luna 15 causing some concern on the part of the United States. Would Luna 15's mission interfere with Apollo 11? Where would it land? Would there be communication interference? Just two hours before the liftoff of Apollo 11, Luna 15 began its descent to the surface in the Sea of Crisis. The spacecraft crashed landed on the lunar surface. The Soviets issued a statement claiming the research part of the mission was complete, but there had been hints that Luna 15 was intended to be sample return mission. No samples were returned.

Luna 1969C

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: June 14, 1969
The spacecraft's rocket exploded shortly after launch.  

Apollo 10

Successful manned lunar orbit (USA)
Launched: May 18, 1969
Lunar orbit: May 21 1969
Astronauts Thomas Stafford, John Young, and Eugene Cernan went into lunar orbit where they tested procedures for the first moon landing. Apollo 10 splashed down in the Pacific Ocean on May 26, 1969.

Luna 1969B

Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
Launched: April 15, 1969
The spacecraft's rocket apparently exploded on the launch pad.  

Zond L1S-1

Failed lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: February 21, 1969
The spacecraft's rocket exploded shortly after launch.  

Luna 1969A

Failed lunar rover (USSR)
Launched: February 19, 1969
The spacecraft's rocket exploded shortly after launch.  

Zond 1969A

Failed lunar flyby and back (USSR)
Launched: January 20, 1969
The spacecraft's second stage rocket shut down early and the rocket failed to achieve Earth orbit.  

Apollo 8

Successful manned lunar orbit (USA)
Launched: December 21, 1968
Lunar orbit: December 24, 1968
Astronauts Frank Borman, James Lovell, and William Anders were the first humans to leave the Earth and travel to the Moon. They arrived at the Moon, completed 10 orbits, and returned to Earth on December 27, 1968.

Zond 6

Successful lunar flyby and back (USSR)
Launched: November 10, 1968
Zond 6 was seen by the western powers as being the Soviet Union's final test before launching cosmonauts to the Moon. Once the spacecraft left Earth orbit, it took 2 days to reach the Moon. There, it took pictures as it swung close to the lunar surface. Zond 6 then returned to Earth. Instead of splashing down in the Indian Ocean, like the previous Zond 5 mission, controllers programmed the spacecraft to bounce off the atmosphere and redirected the capsule to parachute to a landing within Soviet territory.

Zond 5

Successful lunar flyby and back (USSR)
Launched: September 15, 1968
Zond 5 left Earth orbit, flew around the Moon and returned to our planet, splashing down in the Indian Ocean. The spacecraft was recovered and taken back to the USSR for study. Not much information was released about this mission, but many believed Zond 5 was one of the last steps before the Soviet Union landed cosmonauts on the Moon.

Luna 14

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: April 7, 1968
Lunar orbit: April 10, 1968
The spacecraft took images of the Moon and studied the lunar gravitational field.

Surveyor 7

Successful lunar lander (USA)
Launched: Jan. 7, 1968
Lunar landing: January 9, 1968
Surveyor 7 landed in the lunar highlands near the crater Tycho. Scientists used the scoop on the spacecraft to "weigh" lunar rocks, based on how much current was needed to lift each rock. Images sent back from the spacecraft indicated, for the first time, that some of the lunar rocks had been molten at some time in their history. The mission was successfully completed on February 21, 1968.  

Surveyor 6

Successful lunar lander (USA)
Launched: November 7, 1967
Lunar landing: November 9, 1967
Surveyor 6 touched down in Sinus Medii. Once on the surface, the spacecraft took a series of pictures and soil samples. Then, on November 17, controllers ordered the spacecraft's engines to fire, lifting Surveyor 6 off the lunar surface 3 meters (10 feet) and setting it down again a few feet from the original landing site. The spacecraft then took pictures of the former landing site, checking for evidence of a crater created by the rocket's exhaust. No crater was found, indicating that the Moon's surface was solid. Last contact with the spacecraft was December 14, 1967.  

Surveyor 5

Successful lunar lander (USA)
Launched: September 8, 1967
Lunar landing: September 10, 1967
Despite a serious helium leak that occurred during its trip to the Moon, controllers were able to bring Surveyor 5 to a success touchdown. Once on the ground, controllers ordered the spacecraft to fire its engine to test the composition of the soil beneath the lander. The test firing blew away a few clumps of soil, but did not create a crater. The final transmission from the spacecraft was received on December 17, 1967.  

Lunar Orbiter 5

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: August 1, 1967
Lunar orbit: August 5, 1967
Upon completion of this mission, over 99% of the Moon's surface had been mapped (with data from all previous missions combined). The mission ended when controllers sent the spacecraft crashing to the lunar surface on January 31, 1968.

Surveyor 4

Failed lunar lander (USA)
Launched: July 14, 1967
Controllers lost contact with Surveyor 4 just two and a half minutes before it was to touch down in Sinus Medii.

Lunar Orbiter 4

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: May 4, 1967
Lunar orbit: May 8, 1967
The spacecraft was the first to take pictures of the Moon's south pole. It took images from orbit for eight months before controllers sent the spacecraft crashing to the lunar surface. Crashing the spacecraft into the Moon kept an area around the Moon clear of debris that might compromise the upcoming manned missions.

Surveyor 3

Successful lunar lander (USA)
Launched: April 17, 1967
Lunar landing: April 20, 1967
As Surveyor 3 came in for a soft landing on the Moon one of its thrusters didn't turn off at the proper time and the spacecraft bounced a couple of times before it came to rest in the Ocean of Storms. Onboard the spacecraft, a scoop was used to collect soil samples, and a camera took over 6,300 images.  

Lunar Orbiter 3

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: February 4, 1967
Lunar orbit: February 8, 1967
The spacecraft's orbit was altered several times during the mission to give controllers on Earth more experience with communications during lunar orbit. Lunar Orbiter 3 was able to photograph Surveyor 2 on the surface. The mission ended on October 9, 1967, when controllers deliberately crashed the spacecraft into the Moon.

Luna 13

Successful lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: December 21, 1966
Lunar landing: December 24, 1966
Luna 13 bounced to a landing on the lunar surface coming to a rest in the Oceans of Storms between the craters Selencus and Craft. The lander collected soil samples and conducted experiments to determine the soil density and radioactivity. The mission ended on December 30, 1966, when the spacecraft's supplies were depleted.

Lunar Orbiter 2

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: November 6, 1966
Lunar orbit: November 6, 1966
Lunar impact: October 11, 1967
Lunar Orbiter 2 went into lunar orbit and took over 800 pictures during its mission, including an oblique view of the crater Copernicus that was voted one of the best images of the century by the press. The spacecraft was deliberately sent crashing into the lunar surface on October 11, 1967, bringing to an end the successful mission.

Luna 12

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: October 22, 1966
Lunar orbit: October 25, 1966
The primary mission of the spacecraft was to photograph the lunar surface and it did, taking 1,100 pictures including images of the Sea of Rains and the area surrounding the crater Aristarchus. The mission was terminated on January 19, 1967 after 602 orbits.

Surveyor 2

Failed lunar lander (USA)
Launched: September 20, 1966
Lunar impact: September 22, 1966
Just before touchdown, one of the thrusters on the spacecraft malfunctioned during a mid course correction and Surveyor 2 tumbled out of control. It crashed into the moon, southeast of the crater Copernicus.  

Luna 11

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: August 24, 1966
Lunar orbit: August 27, 1966
The spacecraft, designed to test new technology, completed 277 orbits before its mission was terminated on October 1, 1966.

Lunar Orbiter 1

Successful lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: August 10, 1966
The spacecraft sent back high-quality images (by television) of over two million square miles of lunar surface, including the first detailed images of potential Apollo landing sites. After circling the Moon 527 times in 77 days, engineers on Earth deliberately crashed the spacecraft onto the Moon's surface, so that it wouldn't interfere with the upcoming manned missions.

Surveyor 1

Successful lunar lander (USA)
Launched: May 30, 1966
Surveyor 1 was the first spacecraft from the United States to perform a controlled landing on the surface of the Moon. Once on the surface, Surveyor 1 took over 11,100 images of the lunar landscape during its six-week mission.

Luna 10

Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: March 31, 1966
Lunar arrival: April 2, 1966
Luna 10 arrived at the Moon becoming the first spacecraft to successfully go into orbit around another celestial body. While in orbit, Luna 10 studied radiation levels, cosmic ray intensities, and took readings of the Moon's weak magnetic field. The spacecraft successfully transmitted data for two months, circling the Moon 460 times before its mission came to an end on May 30, 1966.

Cosmos 111

Failed moon flyby (USSR)
Launched: March 1, 1966
The spacecraft was unable to achieve a lunar trajectory. It re-entered Earth's atmosphere on March 3, 1966.  

Luna 9

Successful lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: Jan. 31, 1966
Lunar landing: February 3, 1966
Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to make a controlled landing onto the surface of another celestial body. Scientists believe Luna 9 landed on the sloping floor of a shallow crater. Over the next two days, the spacecraft sent back three panoramas of the lunar landscape. During the second and third transmission, the spacecraft evidently shifted or settled a few centimeters, because the third batch of images were taken from a slightly different angle. The different angle allowed scientists to construct a stereoscopic view of the landing site and determine the distances to various rocks and depressions. The last communication with the spacecraft was on Feb. 5, 1966.

Luna 8

Failed lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: December 3, 1965
Lunar impact: December 6, 1965
Luna 8 made it to the Moon, but its retro rockets fired too late and the spacecraft crash-landed in the Ocean of Storms, east of the crater Galilei.

Luna 7

Failed lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: October 4, 1965
Lunar impact: October 7, 1965
Luna 7 made it to the Moon, but its retro rockets switched on too soon. The spacecraft crash-landed in the Ocean of Storms, west of the crater Kepler.

Zond 3

Successful lunar flyby (USSR)
Launched: July 18, 1965
Zond 3 took 25 images as it flew by the far side of the Moon, then transmitted the images back to Earth nine days later. After passing the Moon, the spacecraft went into a solar orbit.

Luna 6

Failed lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: June 8, 1965
On its way to the Moon, a rocket failed to turn off after a trajectory correction maneuver. As a result, Luna 8 missed the Moon and went into a solar orbit.

Luna 5

Failed lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: May 9, 1965
Lunar Impact: May 12, 1965
This mission was the first-ever attempt to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. Luna 5's retro-rockets failed to fire and the spacecraft crash-landed near the Sea of Clouds.

Ranger 9

Successful lunar impactor (USA)
Launched: March 21, 1965
Ranger 9 took over 5,800 images of the lunar surface before it crash-landed in the crater Alphonsus. Network television broadcasted images from the spacecraft as they were received - live from the Moon!

Ranger 8

Successful lunar impactor (USA)
Launched: February 17, 1965
Moon impact: February 20, 1965.
Ranger 8 took over 7,100 high quality images of the lunar surface before it crash-landed in the Sea of Tranquility.

Ranger 7

Successful lunar impactor (USA)
Launched: July 28, 1964
Moon impact: July 31, 1964
Ranger 7 sent back the first high-quality images of the lunar surface before it crash-landed in the Sea of Clouds. Over 4,300 images were sent back.

Ranger 6

Failed lunar impactor (USA)
Launched: January 30, 1964
Moon impact: February 2, 1964.
Ranger 6 was designed to take a series of images as it approached the Moon, right up to the point where it crashed into its surface. Unfortunately, the spacecraft's cameras failed and no pictures were returned. Ranger 6 crash-landed in the Sea of Tranquility.

Luna 4

Failed lunar orbiter (USSR)
Launched: April 2, 1963
Contact with Luna 4 was lost after it past within 9,300 kilometers (5,780 miles) of the Moon.

Sputnik 25

Failed lunar lander (USSR)
Launched: January 4, 1963
After a successful launch, the spacecraft failed to transfer to a lunar trajectory and burnt up as it re-entered Earth's atmosphere.

Ranger 5

Failed lunar Lander (USA)
Launched: October 18, 1962
A solar cell onboard Ranger 5 failed shortly after launch. Without power, engineers on the ground were unable to control the spacecraft and Ranger 5 missed the Moon by 720 kilometers (450 miles).

Ranger 4

Failed lunar lander (USA)
Launched: April 23, 1962
Lunar impact: April 26, 1962
After a successful launch, a failure of some sort onboard Ranger 4 made communication with the spacecraft impossible. Engineers were able to track the spacecraft until it crashed on the far side of the Moon, but were unable to collect any data.

Ranger 3

Failed lunar lander (USA)
Launched: January. 26, 1962
Designed to take close-up images of the Moon before impacting with its surface, Ranger 3 missed the Moon and ended up in a solar orbit.

Ranger 2

Failed Earth-orbit test vehicle (USA)
Launched: November 18, 1961
Ranger 2, like Ranger 1, was designed as a test vehicle. The spacecraft's engines failed to re-ignite after the spacecraft entered a low Earth orbit. The spacecraft burned up in Earth's atmosphere just two days after launch.

Ranger 1

Failed Earth-orbit test vehicle (USA)
Launched: August 23, 1961
Ranger 1 was the first US spacecraft designed to test the feasibility of going into a parking orbit around Earth before heading out to the Moon. A parking orbit would give engineers time to calculate a much more accurate trajectory for the spacecraft to follow to the Moon. Ranger 1 made it into low Earth orbit. Its engines, which were supposed to re-ignite after 13 minutes and burn for 90 seconds, only burned for a few seconds and then shut off. The spacecraft eventually re-entered Earth's atmosphere after completing 111 orbits.

Pioneer P-3

Failed lunar flyby USA
Launched: November 26, 1959
The protective cover that surrounded the spacecraft while it was attached to the rocket broke away after only 45 seconds in flight. As a result, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit and crashed back to Earth.

Luna 3

Successful lunar flyby (USSR)
Launched: October 4, 1959
Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to take pictures of the far side of the Moon. It is uncertain how many pictures the spacecraft returned, but three images were released to the public, as well as a composite image of the full disc of the Moon's far side, which was made up of several frames. As a result of these pictures, the Russians were the first to name features on the far side of the Moon. Luna 3's trajectory took the spacecraft from Earth, around the Moon and back, where it reentered the Earth's atmosphere on April 20, 1960.

Luna 2

Successful lunar impactor (USSR)
Launched: September 12, 1959
Lunar impact: September 14, 1959
Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to land on another celestial body. |The spacecraft impacted on the Moon's surface just east of the Sea of Serenity near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. The spacecraft did not detect a magnetic field around the Moon.

Pioneer 4

Successful lunar flyby (USA)
Launched: March 3, 1959
Pioneer 4 passed within 60,000 kilometers (37,300 miles) of the Moon, returned data on lunar radiation levels, then entered a solar orbit.

Luna 1959A

Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
Launched: June 18, 1959
The rocket's guidance system failed and the spacecraft was unable to reach Earth orbit.  

Luna 1

Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
Launched: January 2, 1959
The spacecraft missed the Moon and went into a solar orbit. However, the spacecraft did provide some scientific data when it released a sodium vapor cloud 70,000 miles from Earth that allowed scientists to study interplanetary gases.

Pioneer 3

Failed lunar flyby (USA)
Launched: December 6, 1958
The rocket's first stage shut off early, causing the spacecraft to crash.

Luna 1958C

Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
Launched: December 4, 1958
The rocket's first stage failed shortly after launch.  

Pioneer 2

Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
Launched: November 8, 1958
Just after launch, the second stage of the rocket failed to ignite. As a result, the spacecraft did not achieve orbit and fell back to Earth.  

Luna 1958B

Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
Launched: October 12, 1958
The rocket carrying the spacecraft to the Moon exploded just after liftoff. Although Luna 1958B was launched hours after Pioneer 1, its trajectory would have allowed it to beat Pioneer 1 to the Moon.  

Pioneer 1

Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
Launch: October 11, 1958
Just after launch, the rocket's second and third stage failed to separate evenly. As a result, the spacecraft was unable to achieve a lunar trajectory. However, Pioneer 1 did manage to returned data on the Van Allen Belt and micrometeorite impacts before re-entering Earth's atmosphere on Oct. 12, 1958.

Luna 1958A

Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
Launch: September 23, 1958
The rocket carrying the spacecraft exploded just after liftoff.  

Pioneer 0

Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
Launch: August 17, 1958
The first attempt by the United States to fly to the Moon ended just 77 seconds after liftoff when the rocket's first stage exploded.

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