Space exploration has come along way since the first lunar exploration on 4 August 1957 by the Soviet Union, but it is still a very tricky and dangerous process. The Columbia Space Shuttle Explosion in 2003 shows just how tricky and dangerous space exploration can be. Since the moon is our closest neighbor, it has been a target to be reached but only achieved by a small number of countries.
There have been seven countries that have been to the moon via probes; these are Russia (the USSR), Japan, China, the European Space Agency, Luxembourg, and India. The only country to put a man on the moon has been the United States.
Each country has there own space agencies, and some have done more than one space exploration. Below I will cover each countries exploration and give information on the missions and their success.
The United States has completed a total of 32 luna space missions.
The first US crewed space mission was called the Mercury program that started in 1958, with the flight into space taking place in 1961, with the program coming to an end in 1963.
Apollo space program began in 1960, after John F. Kennedy’s significant campaign promise on his campaign trail. A space program that ultimately ended up putting the first man on the moon. A program that would end up putting 12 men on the moon. The Apollo space program comes to an end in 1972 at a $25.4 billion cost, around $160 billion in money today.
The United States has had ten lunar space programs; some in partnership with other space agencies that have come to an end; there are still three lunar programs running.
One of the three left runnings is called the Artemis program that began in 2017, and its main aim is to bring humans to the Moon again.
The Soviet Union has completed a total of 23 luna space missions.
The Soviet Union had a lot of firsts when it comes to the lunar space expedition. First, to launch an artificial satellite to the moon with Sputnik 1 and proved space mission was possible. Breaking new ground then by becoming the first to reach the moon in 1959, this was an uncrewed mission; it did not impact the surface due to an error.
Luna 2 was launched later the same year, impacting the moon’s surface after the error was overcome. First carried on with the Soviet Union when they become the first to return close up images of the moon on lunar 3 mission. On the same mission, the first images of the dark side of the moon were also produced.
Lunar 9 also produced firsts as it was the first mission from any county to make a successful soft landing on the moon. Being achieved on 3rd February 1966 and the same year, lunar 10 was launched, which produced the first artificial object to orbit the moon.
Despite there many firsts, they did not become the first to land a man on the moon; that feat goes to the United States of America. Also, to this date, Russia (USSR) have not landed a man on the moon but still have space missions running.
Japan has completed a total of 2 luna space missions. Both lunar space missions were in the form of probes.
The first mission was on the MUSES program, and the probe was called Hiten and launched on January 24, 1990. After 3 years of orbiting the moon, Hiten was deliberately crashed into the moon’s surface on April 10, 1993.
The second Japanese lunar space mission was a probe called Selene that was launched on September 14, 2007. After 1 year 8 months of orbiting the moon, it was deliberately crashed into the moon’s surface on June 10, 2009.
There have been no more returns to the moon, but Japan’s next space project is backed up by ispace, a Japanese company. That is said to want to land a spacecraft on the moon’s surface in 2021 with the ultimate goal of helping humanity settle the moon.
China has completed a total of 7 luna space missions.
Chinese space projects started when Chairman Mao Zedong that a nuclear deterrent was needed after being threatened by the US in the Korean war.
Chang’e 1 lunar probe was launched in 2007 to produce a super-accurate 3D map of the moon. In December 2019, China became only the third country to make a soft landing on the moon.
Chinas most significant achievement was with Chang’e 4 in 2019 that made a historic landing on the moon’s dark side, giving us views of the dark side of the moon that we have never seen before and many discoveries.
European Space Agency
The European Space Agency has completed a total of 1 luna space missions.
27 Sept 2003 SMART-1 was launched with the main object was testing solar-electric propulsion and other deep-space technologies. The mission was completed on 3 Sept 2006 by deliberately crashing SMART-1 into the moon’s surface.
European Space Agency has planned missions over the coming years to take human-crewed space stations to the moon to explore the moon properly.
India has completed a total of 1 luna space missions.
Under the Chandrayaan program, Chandrayaan-1 was India’s first space mission to the moon in October 2008 and operated until August 2009.
The main aim of the mission was Remote Sensing and Planetary Science.
Luxembourg has completed a total of 1 luna space missions.
The Luxembourg space mission was the first private lunar probe to successfully fly to the moon Manfred Memorial Moon Mission (4M). LuxSpace led the mission. The flypast took place on 28 October 2014 and orbited until 11 November 2014, which exceeded its lifespan four times.