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Lunar Exploration Chronology
1958-1998
 
Name  Nation  Date Launched  Mission 
Pioneer 1 (p)  US  11 Oct 1958  Flyby attempt that reached 71,700 miles (1/3 of distance to Moon) before falling back toward Earth. Returned Van Allen Radiation Belt data. 
Pioneer 2 (u)  US  8 Nov 1958  Flyby attempt that reached 963 miles and yielded no useful scientific data. 
Pioneer 3 (p)  US  6 Dec 1958  Flyby attempt that reached 63,500 miles before falling back toward Earth. Returned Van Allen Radiation Belt data. 
Luna 1 (p)  USSR  2 Jan 1959  Impact attempt that resulted in flyby within 3,728 miles of Moon. 
Pioneer 4 (p)  US  3 Mar 1959  Flyby at 35,500 miles from Moon. 
Luna 2 (s)  USSR  12 Sep 1959  Impacted on Moon 13 Sep 1959 at 22:02:04 UT, Latitude 29.10 N, Longitude 0.00—Palus Putredinis. 
Luna 3 (s)  USSR  4 Oct 1959  Lunar flyby that transmitted first images of far side of Moon. 
Ranger 1 (u)  US  23 Aug 1961  Lunar impact attempt that entered Earth orbit after booster failure and reentered atmosphere on 30 Aug 1961. 
Ranger 2 (u)  US  18 Nov 1961  Lunar impact attempt that entered Earth orbit after booster failure and reentered atmosphere on 19 Nov 1961. 
Ranger 3 (u)  US  26 Jan 1962  Lunar impact attempt; spacecraft malfunction in encounter period. 
Ranger 4 (u)  US  23 Apr 1962  Lunar impact attempt; spacecraft computer and sequencer malfunctioned in Earth orbit. 
Ranger 5 (u)  US  18 Oct 1962 Lunar impact attempt; spacecraft malfunctioned in Earth orbit. 
Sputnik 25 (u)  USSR  4 Jan 1963  Unnamed Luna-class probe, known by Sputnik 25 West; spacecraft malfunctioned in Earth orbit. 
Luna ? (u)  USSR  2 Feb 1963  Unnamed Luna-class probe that failed to reach Earth orbit. 
Luna 4 (u)  USSR  2 Apr 1963  Lunar impact; spacecraft malfunctioned en route to Moon. 
Ranger 6 (p)  US  30 Jan 1964  Lunar impact, but cameras failed. 
Ranger 7 (s)  US  28 Jul 1964  Lunar impact that transmitted 4,316 photographs of surface. 
Ranger 8 (s)  US  17 Feb 1965  Lunar impact that transmitted 7,137 photographs of surface. 
Cosmos 60 (u)  USSR

9 Mar 1965  Lunar soft lander that failed in Earth orbit. 
Ranger 9 (s)  US  21 Mar 1965  Lunar impact that transmitted photographs as it crashed into Crater Alphonsus. 
Luna 5 (u)  USSR  9 May 1965  Lunar soft lander; retrorockets malfunctioned and crashed into Sea of Clouds. 
Luna 6 (u)  USSR  8 Jun 1965  Lunar soft lander; rockets malfunctioned and spacecraft leapt off course, missing Moon by 99,000 miles. 
Zond 3 (s)  USSR  18 Jul 1965  Probe photographed far side of Moon during flyby on way to Mars. Zond 1 and 2 were probes sent to Venus and Mars. 
Luna 7 (u)  USSR  4 Oct 1965  Lunar soft lander that crashed into Ocean of Storms near crater Kepler. 
Luna 8 (u)  USSR  3 Dec 1965  Lunar soft lander that crashed into Ocean of Storms near crater Galilaei. 
Luna 9 (s)  USSR  31 Jan 1966  Lunar soft lander that landed on Moon 3 Feb 1966 at 18:44:52 UT, Latitude 7.08 N, Longitude 295.63 E—Oceanus Procellarum. 
Luna 10 (s)  USSR  31 Mar 1966  Lunar orbiter. 
Surveyor 1 (s)  US  30 May 1966  Lunar soft lander that landed in Ocean of Storms on 2 Jun 1966 and transmitted more than 10,000 photographs of surface. 
Lunar Orbiter 1 (s)  US  10 Aug 1966  Lunar orbiter. 
Luna 11 (s)  USSR  24 Aug 1966  Lunar orbiter. 
Surveyor 2 (u)  US  20 Sep 1966  Lunar soft lander that crashed southeast of crater Copernicus. 
Luna 12 (s)  USSR  22 Oct 1966  Lunar orbiter. 
Lunar Orbiter 2 (s)  US  6 Nov 1966  Lunar orbiter. 
Luna 13 (s)  USSR  21 Dec 1966  Landed on Moon 24 Dec 1966 at 18:01:00 UT, Latitude 18.87 N, Longitude 297.95 E—Oceanus Procellarum. 
Lunar Orbiter 3 (s)  US  4 Feb 1967  Lunar orbiter. 
Surveyor 3 (s)  US  17 Apr 1967  Landed on Moon 20 Apr 1967 at Ocean of Storms 230 miles south of crater Copernicus. 
Lunar Orbiter 4 (s)  US  8 May 1967  Lunar orbiter. 
Surveyor 4 (u)  US  14 Jul 1967  Lunar soft lander that lost contact with Earth just before landing. 
Lunar Orbiter 5 (s)  US  1 Aug 1967  Lunar orbiter. 
Surveyor 5 (s)  US  8 Sep 1967  Landed on Moon 10 Sep 1967 in Sea of Tranquility, 15.5 miles from Apollo 11 landing site. 
Surveyor 6 (s)  US  7 Nov 1967  Landed on Moon 9 Nov 1967 at Latitude .5 N, Longitude 1.4 W. On 17 Nov 1967 spacraft's rockets were fired and the lander was moved 8 feet to the west for stereoscopic measurements of region. 
Surveyor 7 (s)  US  7 Jan 1968  Landed on Moon 10 Jan 1968 at Latitude 40.9 S, Longitude 11.5 W, 18 miles north of crater Tycho. 
Luna 14 (s)  USSR  7 Apr 1968  Lunar orbiter. 
Zond 5 (s)  USSR  15 Sep 196  Circumlunar mission that returned to Earth 21 Sep 1968. 
Zond 6 (s)  USSR  10 Nov 1968  Circumlunar mission that returned to Earth 17 Nov 1968. 
Apollo 8 (s)  US  21 Dec 1968  Piloted orbiter. 
Apollo 10 (s)  US  18 May 1969  Piloted orbiter. 
Luna 15 (u)  USSR  13 Jul 1969  Lunar soft lander that crashed at Sea of Crises. 
Apollo 11 (s)  US  16 Jul 1969  Piloted landing. 
Zond 7 (s)  USSR  7 Aug 1969  Circumlunar mission that returned to Earth 14 Aug 1969. 
Apollo 12 (s)  US  14 Nov 1969  Piloted landing. 
Apollo 13 (p)  US  11 Apr 1970  Piloted landing mission that was partially successful only because crew returned safely. 
Luna 16 (s)  USSR  12 Sep 1970  Landed on Moon 20 Sep 1970 at 05:18:00 UT, Latitude 0.68 S, Longitude 56.30 E—Mare Fecunditatis. Lunar sample return. 
Zond 8 (s)  USSR  20 Oct 1970  Circumlunar mission that returned to Earth 27 Oct 1970. 
Luna 17 (s)  USSR  10 Nov 1970  Landed on Moon 17 Nov 1970 at 03:47:00 UT, Latitude 38.28 N, Longitude 325.00 E—Mare Imbrium. Lunar rover—Lunokhod 1. 
Apollo 14 (s)  US  31 Jan 1971  Piloted landing. 
Apollo 15 (s)  US  26 Jul 1971  Piloted landing. 
Luna 18 (u)  USSR  2 Sep 1971  Landed on Moon 8 Sep 1971, Latitude 3.5 N, Longitude 56.5 E. Lost communication after landing. 
Luna 19 (s)  USSR  28 Sep 1971  Lunar orbiter. 
Luna 20 (s)  USSR  14 Feb 1972  Landed on Moon 21 Feb 1972 at 19:19:00 UT, Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 56.50 E—Mare Fecunditatis. Lunar sample return to Earth 25 Feb 1972. 
Apollo 16 (s)  US  16 Apr 1972  Piloted landing. 
Apollo 17 (s)  US  7 Dec 1972  Piloted landing. 
Luna 21 (s)  USSR  8 Jan 1973  Landed on Moon 15 Jan 1973 at 23:35:00 UT, Latitude 25.51 N, Longitude 30.38 E—Mare Serenitatis. Lunar rover—Lunokhod 2. 
Luna 22 (s)  USSR  2 Jun 1974  Lunar orbiter. 
Luna 23 (p)  USSR  28 Oct 1975  Landed on Moon 6 Nov 1973, Sea of Crises; damaged in landing and only three days of research undertaken. 
Luna 24 (s)  USSR  14 Aug 1976  Landed on Moon 18 Aug 1976 at 02:00:00 UT, Latitude 12.25 N, Longitude 62.20 E—Mare Crisium. Lunar sample return. 
Clementine (s)  US  25 Jan 1994  Lunar orbiter that mapped surface in greater detail than anything previously. 
Lunar Prospector (s)  US  6 Jan 1998  Lunar Prospector was launched on this date for a one-year polar mission to explore the Moon, especially whether or not water ice is buried inside the lunar crust. Developed as part of the Discovery program of frequent, low-cost missions, Lunar Prospector carried a small payload of only five instruments. Besides water, Lunar Prospector was also to look for other natural resources, such as minerals and gases, that could be used to build and sustain a future human lunar base or in manufacturing fuel for launching spacecraft from the Moon to the rest of the solar system. The spacecraft’s Gamma Ray Spectrometer will also collect a large amount of scientific data about chemical composition of the lunar surface and will measure the Moon's magnetic and gravitational fields. Its Alpha Particle Spectrometer will sniff out small quantities of gases that leak out from the lunar interior. Collectively, the scientific data that Prospector will send back to Earth will help researchers construct a more complete and detailed map of the Moon. In March 1998 Lunar Prospector detected the presence of water ice at both lunar poles, using data from the spacecraft's neutron spectrometer instrument. The lunar water ice is estimated at an overall range of 11 million to 330 million tons of lunar water ice dispersed over 3,600 to 18,000 square miles of water ice-bearing deposits across the northern pole, and an additional 1,800 to 7,200 square miles across the southern polar region. Furthermore, twice as much of the water ice mixture was detected by Lunar Prospector at the Moon's north pole as at the south. 

(s) = successful
(p) = partial success
(u) = failure

Sources: R. Cargill Hall, Lunar Impact: A History of Project Ranger (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4210, 1977); Linda Neumann Ezell, comp., NASA Historical Data Book: Volume II, Programs and Projects, 1958-1968 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4012, 1988); Linda Neumann Ezell, comp., NASA Historical Data Book: Volume III, Programs and Projects, 1969-1978 (Washington, DC: NASA SP-4012, 1988); Robert Reeves, The Superpower Space Race: An Explosive Rivalry through the Solar System (New York: Plenum Press, 1994); Alan J. Levine, The Missile and Space Race (New York: Praeger, 1994); National Space Science Data Center, Code 633.2, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, MD.





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