Missions to the Moon

More than 60 lunar spacecraft missions have been attempted, 12 astronauts have walked on the surface, and more than 840 pounds (382 kg) of lunar rock and soil have been brought to Earth. The contributions of these missions to scientific understanding of the solar system is incalculable; understanding something about the history and evolution of the Moon has added a second planetary body to the short list of bodies that people have touched. This second data point, so to speak, adds immeasurably to scientists' abilities to hypothesize about other planets. As shown in the figure on page 174, the Moon is by far the most visited of solar system bodies.

The tremendous effort and risk of space travel has cost lives. Valentin Bondarenko was selected in 1960 as a military pilot cosmonaut, and on March 23, 1961, he was killed when fire broke out in his spacecraft simulator, driven by its pure oxygen atmosphere. On April 23, 1967, Colonel Engineer Vladimir Mikhailovich Komarov of the Soviet Air Force was launched as pilot of Soyuz 1, a solo mission. On April 24 he became the first person to die during a space mission. On January 27, 1967, a fire occurred on Apollo 1 and killed American astronauts Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger Chaffee. On June 6, 1971, Lieutenant Colonel Georgi Timofeyevich Dobrovolsky was launched as commander of Soyuz 11 along with crewmates Vladislav Volkov (the flight engineer) and Viktor Patsayev (the research engineer). They became the first crew of the world's first space station, Salyut 1. After a 23-day mission, the crew was killed during preparations for reentry to Earth's atmosphere.

The Soviets worked flat out to win the space race with the United States.They sent more than 30 missions to the Moon over the years 1959 through 1973, severely straining the Soviet economy. As one Soviet

The approximate number of successful space missions from all nations to each of the planets and the Moon shows that the Moon is by far the most visited body; only Pluto has had no missions, and Mercury is as neglected as Uranus and Neptune. The definition of a successful mission is arguable, so the total for Mars and the Moon in particular may be disputed by a small number.

Successful Space Missions to the Planets

60 r

^Mars

.Venus J ^Jupiter or*

Mercury 0Sacum -v Uranus

^Neptune ^ Pluto

AU from the Sun scientist from the era explains, it was a simple equation: more rockets, fewer cars; more rockets, fewer clothes. Their extensive Luna series (Lunik in Russian) made a large number of significant scientific discoveries, including returning the first lunar sample to Earth (an unmanned lander did the work), taking the first photographs of the lunar far side, and determining that the Moon has no current magnetic field. The Luna series included three landers (numbers 16, 20, and 24); one of the Soviet remotely controlled landers operated for about a year, an amazing longevity record. Soviet missions returned about seven tenths of a pound (310 g) of surface material and a drill core into the regolith five feet (160 cm) long.

The Soyuz orbiters and Zond missions were meant to converge with sending men to the Moon, but Soyuz had several tragic explosions, and Sergei Korolev, the chief designer, died, and the push by the Soviets to land men on the Moon ended. All the studies that followed were robotic. Soyuz rockets are still in production, marketed by a joint French and Russian consortium called STARSEM.

In reaction to the Soviet launch of Sputnik, the Americans became determined to land the first man on the Moon, and by that single symbolic act, prove themselves as the leaders of the space age. The Apollo series of launches included five successful manned landings with large sample returns (11, 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17).These missions returned 2,000 samples, totaling 840 pounds (382 kg) of material. Instruments left on the Moon operated for up to eight years, and laser reflectors placed there are still in use.

The Japanese have been active in launches since 1970. Initially, their space agency (the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science, recently integrated into the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) focused on Earth satellites. In 1980 the Japanese entered the arena of missions to the Moon with a mission named HITEN (MUSES-A), launched on January 24 from the Kagoshima Space Center.The aim of the mission was to practice orbital techniques, including a swing-by using the Moon's gravitation.When HITEN approached the Moon, the spacecraft released a tiny lunar orbiter, HAGOROMO, into orbit around the Moon. HAGOMORO orbited the Moon until April 11, 1993, when it crashed into the lunar surface. Several missions to the Moon are planned by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency for the next decade. Missions to the Moon are summarized in the table below, and discussed in more detail below. The list of lunar missions here omits a number of missions by both the United States and the Soviet Union that failed at or soon after launch.

MISSIONS TO THE MOON

Year

Launch date

Mission

Country

Comments

1959

January 2, 1959

Luna 1

USSR

flyby

March 3, 1959

Pioneer 4

U.S.

flyby

September 12, 1959

Luna 2

USSR

first human-made object to reach the Moon

October 4, 1959

Luna 3

USSR

probe

1961

August 23, 1961

Ranger 1

U.S.

attempted test flight

November 18, 1961

Ranger 2

U.S.

attempted test flight

1962

January 26, 1962

Ranger 3

U.S.

attempted impact

April 23, 1962

Ranger 4

U.S.

impact

October 18, 1962

Ranger 5

(continues)

MISSIONS TO THE MOON (continued)

Year

Launch date

Mission

Country

Comments

1963

April 2, 1963

Luna 4

USSR

flyby

1964

January 30, 1964

Ranger 6

U.S.

impact

July 28, 1964

Ranger 7

U.S.

impact

1965

February 17, 1965

Ranger 8

U.S.

impact

March 21, 1965

Ranger 9

U.S.

impact

May 9, 1965

Luna 5

USSR

impact

June 8, 1965

Luna 6

USSR

attempted lander

July 18, 1965

Zond 3

USSR

flyby

October 4, 1965

Luna 7

USSR

impact

December 3, 1965

Luna 8

USSR

impact

1966

January 31, 1966

Luna 9

USSR

first soft landing in

space history

March 31, 1966

Luna 10

USSR

orbiter

May 30, 1966

Surveyor 1

U.S.

lander

August 10, 1966

Lunar Orbiter 1

U.S.

orbiter

August 24, 1966

Luna 11

USSR

orbiter

September 20, 1966

Surveyor 2

U.S.

attempted lander

October 22, 1966

Luna 12

USSR

orbiter

November 6, 1966

Lunar Orbiter 2

U.S.

orbiter

December 21, 1966

Luna 13

USSR

lander

1967

February 4, 1967

Lunar Orbiter 3

U.S.

orbiter

April 17, 1967

Surveyor 3

U.S.

lander

May 8, 1967

Lunar Orbiter 4

U.S.

orbiter

July 14, 1967

Surveyor 4

U.S.

attempted lander

August 1, 1967

Lunar Orbiter 5

U.S.

orbiter

September 8, 1967

Surveyor 5

U.S.

lander

November 7, 1967

Surveyor 6

U.S.

lander

1968

January 7, 1968

Surveyor 7

U.S.

lander

April 7, 1968

Luna 14

USSR

orbiter

Year

Launch date

Mission

Country

Comments

September 15, 1968

Zond 5

USSR

return probe

November 10, 1968

Zond 6

USSR

return probe

December 21, 1968

Apollo 8

U.S.

crewed orbiter

1969

May 18, 1969

Apollo 10

U.S.

orbiter

July 13, 1969

Luna 15

USSR

orbiter

July 16, 1969

Apollo 11

U.S.

first crewed landing and

sample return in space

history

August 7, 1969

Zond 7

USSR

return probe

November 14, 1969

Apollo 12

U.S.

crewed landing and

sample return

1970

April 11, 1970

Apollo 13

U.S.

attempted crewed landing

(aborted)

September 12, 1970

Luna 16

USSR

first Soviet sample return

October 20, 1970

Zond 8

USSR

return probe

November 10, 1970

Luna 17

USSR

first robotic rover in

space history

1971

January 31, 1971

Apollo 14

U.S.

crewed landing and

sample return

July 26, 1971

Apollo 15

U.S.

crewed landing and

sample return

September 2, 1971

Luna 18

USSR

impact

September 28, 1971

Luna 19

USSR

orbiter

1972

February 14, 1972

Luna 20

USSR

sample return

April 16, 1972

Apollo 16

U.S.

crewed landing and

sample return

December 7, 1972

Apollo 17

U.S.

crewed landing and

sample return

1973

January 8, 1973

Luna 21

USSR

rover

(continues)

MISSIONS TO THE MOON

(continued)

Year

Launch date

Mission

Country

Comments

1974

June 2, 1974

Luna 22

USSR

orbiter

October 28, 1974

Luna 23

USSR

lander

1976

August 14, 1976

Luna 24

USSR

sample return

1990

January 24, 1990

HITEN

Japan

flyby and orbiter

1994

January 25, 1994

Clementine

U.S.

orbiter

1997

December 24, 1997

AsiaSat 3/HGS-1

Hong Kong/PRC

lunar flyby

1998

January 7, 1998

Lunar Prospector

U.S.

orbiter

2003

September, 2003

SMART 1

ESA

lunar orbiter

Sputnik 1 October 1957 Soviet

Sputnik was the mission that started the great race between the United States and the Soviet Union.When in 1957 the rocket was ready but not the satellite, Sergei Korolev, the chief designer, simply told the engineers to immediately make a sphere and put a radio in it. This simple design allowed the study of radio waves in the atmosphere and the structure of the Earth's upper atmosphere, previously unexplored areas. Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957, and history changed. The world's first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds (82 kg), and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path.That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments.Though Sputnik 1 was not a mission to the Moon, its launch inspired both countries to aim for that goal.

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