ESO Moon.jpg
Exploring the Moon

A history of lunar discovery from the first
space probes to recent times
saluting.jpg
The first robot explorers

Landers and orbiters 1

Landers and orbiters 2

Sample returns and lunar rovers

Map of lunar landings

Table of Moon probes

Apollo to the Moon!

Meeting the challenge

Repeating the feat

Driving on the Moon

Heading for the hills

Apollo lunar mission chronology

Russia’s secret manned Moon programme

What did we learn from Apollo?

Lunar exploration since Apollo

The international Moon fleet

Exploring the Apollo landing sites 1

Exploring the Apollo landing sites 2

Exploring the Moon on stamps
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Background image:
The waning crescent Moon.
(European Southern Observatory)


Text © Ian Ridpath

These pages support Ian’s talk on Exploring the Moon
 
Apollo to the Moon!
Probe
Launch date
Results
1959 January 2
Missed Moon on January 4 by 6000 km. Intended lunar impact
1959 September 12
Hit Moon September 13 in eastern Mare Imbrium. First man-made object to reach Moon
1959 October 4
Photographed Moon’s far side on October 7
1962 January 26
Missed Moon on January 28 by 36,800 km. Intended hard-lander
1962 April 23
Impacted Moon’s far side on April 26, Intended hard-lander
1962 October 18
Missed Moon on October 21 by 724 km. Intended hard-lander
1963 April 2
Missed Moon on April 5 by 8,500 km. Intended hard-lander
1964 January 30
Hit Moon February 2. Television system failed
1964 July 28
Hit Moon July 31 in southeastern Oceanus Procellarum (an area now known as Mare Cognitum), returning 4,308 close-up photographs
1965 February 17
Hit Moon February 20 in Mare Tranquillitatis, returning 7,137 close-up photographs
1965 March 21
Hit Moon March 24 in the crater Alphonsus, returning 5,814 close-up photographs
1965 May 9
Hit Moon May 12. Intended lander
1965 June 8
Missed Moon by 160,000 km on June 11. Intended lander
1965 July 18
Flew behind Moon on July 20, photographing areas not covered by Luna 3. Continued towards Mars for long-range communications tests
1965 October 4
Hit Moon October 7. Intended lander
1965 December 3
Hit Moon December 6. Intended lander
1966 January 31
Landed in western Oceanus Procellarum February 3. Returned photographs from the surface for three days
1966 March 31
Entered lunar orbit April 3. Measured magnetic field, meteoroids
1966 May 30
Landed June 2 in Oceanus Procellarum near crater Flamsteed. Returned 11,240 photographs
1966 August 10
Entered lunar orbit August 14. Returned 229 photographs
1966 September 20
Hit Moon September 23 after control system failed
1966 August 24
Entered lunar orbit August 27. Intended photographic mission
1966 October 22
Entered lunar orbit October 25. Photographed the surface
1966 November 6
Entered lunar orbit November 10. Returned 817 photographs
1966 December 21
Landed in northwestern Oceanus Procellarum December 24. Photographed the surface, tested soil
1967 February 5
Entered lunar orbit February 8. Returned 626 photographs
1967 April 17
Landed April 20 in Oceanus Procellarum. Returned 6,326 photographs. Dug soil with mechanical arm. Visited by Apollo 12 astronauts in 1969 November
1967 May 4
Entered lunar orbit May 8. Returned 546 photographs
1967 July 14
Landed in Sinus Medii on July 17. Radio contact lost prior to touchdown
1967 August 1
Entered lunar orbit August 5. Returned 844 photographs
1967 September 8
Landed September 11 in southern Mare Tranquillitatis. Returned 19,118 photographs. Analysed soil by bombardment with alpha particles
1967 November 7
Landed November 10 in Sinus Medii. Returned 29,952 photographs. Analysed soil with alpha-particle instrument
1968 January 7
Landed January 10 near crater Tycho. Returned 21,038 photographs. Carried mechanical arm and surface analysis instrument
1968 April 7
Entered lunar orbit April 10. Measured magnetic and gravitational fields, solar wind particles
1968 September 14
Unmanned test of circumlunar Soyuz. Carried biological specimens. Splashed down in Indian Ocean September 21
1968 November 10
Unmanned test of circumlunar Soyuz. Photographed lunar farside. Landed in Soviet Union November 17
1969 July 13
Hit Moon July 21 in Mare Crisium. Intended sample-return mission
1969 August 7
Repeat of Zond 6 mission. Landed in Soviet Union August 14
1970 September 12
Landed in Mare Fecunditatis September 20. Returned to Earth September 24 with 100g of lunar soil
1970 October 20
Similar to previous Zonds, with modified reentry trajectory. Splashed down in Indian Ocean October 27
1970 November 10
Landed in western Mare Imbrium November 17. Carried Lunokhod 1 rover
1971 September 2
Hit Moon September 11. Intended sample-return mission
1971 September 28
Entered lunar orbit October 3. Studied lunar surface and lunar environment
1972 February 14
Landed in northern Mare Fecunditatis February 21. Returned to Earth February 25 with 30g soil sample
1973 January 8
Landed in eastern Mare Serenitatis January 15. Carried Lunokhod 2 rover
1974 May 29
Entered lunar orbit June 2. Studied Moon and near-lunar space
1974 October 28
Landed in Mare Crisium November 6. Damaged drill prevented sample return
1976 August 9
Landed in southeastern Mare Crisium (same area as failed Luna 23) on August 18. Returned to Earth August 22 with 170g soil sample
Chronological table of Moon probes

See also the Lunar Exploration Timeline at the National Space Science Data Center.