On 22nd July 2019, India successfully launched Chandrayaan-2 to explore the South Polar region of the Moon. India will be the first country to explore that side of the Moon. But it's not just India that has attempted to land on the Moon. The US, China and the Soviet Union have also launched space missions in the past to explore the Moon's surface. On that note, here is a list of all the space missions that have been carried out by these 3 countries with an intention of exploring the surface of the Moon.
Let's take a look at all the missions launched by the US on the moon:
1. Surveyor 1 was NASA's first lunar soft-lander in the uncrewed Surveyor program that was launched on May 30, 1966.
The lunar soft lander was sent to the moon to gather data about the lunar surface that would be needed for the crewed Apollo Moon landings that took place in 1969.
2. Surveyor 3 was the third lander of the American unmanned Surveyor program that was launched on April 17, 1967.
This lander was sent to explore the surface of the Moon. It was the first Surveyor mission that carried a surface-soil sampling-scoop which was a huge deal.
3. Surveyor 5 was the fifth lunar lander of the American uncrewed Surveyor program that was launched on September 8, 1967 from Cape Canaveral.
It was sent to explore the surface of the Moon. It landed on Mare Tranquillitatis and it transmitted 19,118 images to Earth.
4. Surveyor 6 was launched on November 7, 1967 and it landed in the Sinus Medii, in the center of the Moon's visible hemisphere.
Surveyor 6 was the sixth lunar lander of the American uncrewed Surveyor program that reached the surface if he Moon. It transmitted a total of 30,027 images to Earth.
5. Surveyor 7 was the last lunar lander of the American uncrewed Surveyor program that was launched on January 7, 1968.
This lander landed near the outer rim of the crater Tycho in the Moon's southern hemisphere.
6. Apollo 11 was launched from Cape Kennedy on 16th July, 1969 and it was first space flight that landed humans on the Moon.
It was also the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo Program.
7. Apollo 12 was launched on November 14, 1969, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, four months after Apollo 11.
Apollo 12 was the sixth crewed flight in the United States Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon. During their visit to the Moon, astronauts also visited Surveyor and removed some parts for return to Earth.
8. Apollo 14 was launched on 31st January 1971 from Kennedy Space Center, Florida with 3 crew members on board.
Apollo 14 was the eighth crewed mission in the United States Apollo program that was the first to land in the lunar highlands. It was marked as last of the "H missions," targeted landings with two-day stays on the Moon with two lunar moonwalks.
9. Apollo 15 was launched on 26th July 1971 from NASA Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
Apollo 15 was the ninth crewed mission in the United States' Apollo program which was the first "J mission" with a longer stay on the Moon and a greater focus on science as compared to the earlier landings. It also saw the first use of the Lunar Roving Vehicle.
10. Apollo 16 was launched on 16th April 1972 from NASA's Kennedy Space Center.
Apollo 16 was the tenth crewed mission in the United States Apollo space program and the second to land in the lunar highlands. It was the second of the "J missions" that lasted for 11 days, 1 hour, and 51 minutes.
11. Apollo 17 was launched on 7th December 1972 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Apollo 17 was the final mission of NASA's Apollo program which was a "J-type mission" that included three days on the lunar surface, extended scientific capability, and the use of the third Lunar Roving Vehicle.
Here's a list of space missions that were launched by the Soviet Union on the Moon.
1. Luna 9 was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna programme that was launched on 3rd February 1966.
It became the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the Moon.
The objectives of the mission was to collect images of the lunar surface, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays and study mechanical properties of the lunar surface material.
7. Luna 23 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program developed by the Soviet Union that was launched on 28th October 1974.
Luna 23 was intended to return a lunar sample to Earth.
8. Luna 24 was an robotic probe of the Soviet Union's Luna programme that was also the last of the Luna series of spacecraft.
It was the third Soviet mission to return lunar soil samples from the Moon to Earth.
And lastly, here's a list of all the space missions that were launched by China:
1. Chang'e 3 is an unmanned lunar exploration mission operated by the China National Space Administration (CNSA) that was launched on December 2013.
It incorporated a robotic lander and China's first lunar rover. On 28 December 2015, Chang'e 3 discovered a new type of basaltic rock, rich in ilmenite, a black mineral.
2. Chang'e 4 is a robotic spacecraft mission that was launched on 7th May 2018 as part of the second phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program.
It achieved the first soft landing on the far side of the Moon, on 3 January 2019.
This data really shows the improvement in technology and the advancement in science. We hope to learn more about the Moon and it's surface in the near future.