The moon has held our interest since the beginning of recorded history. It was only natural that it would be the first target of space probes beyond our own atmosphere.
Looking for moon phases? Moon phases from 1760 to 2199 are available here.
NOTE: The manned Apollo Lunar missions are not included here. For a description of the Apollo missions, visit WorldSpaceFlight's Project Apollo pages.
- Pioneer (1) (USA) 17 August 1958. Attempted
Lunar orbit. Exploded 77 seconds after launch.
- Pioneer 1 (USA) 11 October 1958. Attempted
Lunar orbit. Failed to reach escape velocity and reentered over the South Pacific 43 hours
and 17 minutes after liftoff.
- Pioneer 2 (USA) 8 November 1958. Attempted
Lunar orbit. Third stage failed to fire and the probe came back down 42 minutes after
- Pioneer 3 (USA) 6 December 1958. Attempted
Lunar flyby. Failed to reach escape velocity and reentered over French Equatorial Africa
38 hours and 6 minutes after liftoff.
- Luna 1 (Mechta) (USSR) 2 January 1959. Lunar
flyby. Passed moon at a distance of 5995 km, 4 January 1959. Discovered solar wind. Luna 1
is now is in a solar orbit.
- Pioneer 4 (USA) 3 March 1959. Lunar flyby.
Passed moon at a distance of 60,000 km, 4 March 1959. Pioneer 4 carried a Geiger-Mueller
tube detector and a photography experiment. No radiation was detected and the probe was
not close enough to trigger the photoelectric sensor. Pioneer 4 is now is in a solar
- Luna 2 (Lunik 2) (USSR) 12 September 1959.
Impacted on the moon 14 September 1959. The mission confirmed there was no appreciable
magnetic field and no evidence of any radiation belts.
- Luna 3 (Lunik 3) (USSR) 4 October 1959.
Returned the first images of the far side of the moon, 7 October 1959. A total of 29
photographs covering 70% of the far side were taken, 17 were returned. The probe was
believed to have burned up in the Earth's atmosphere in March or April of 1960, but may
have survived in orbit until after 1962.
- Ranger 1 (USA) 23 August 1961. Failed to
leave earth orbit, reentered 29 August 1961. It was intended to go into a 60,000 km by
1,100,000 km test orbit.
- Ranger 2 (USA) 18 November 1961. Failed to
leave earth orbit, reentered 20 November 1961. A deep space trajectory was planned.
- Ranger 3 (USA) 26 January 1962. Intended
to hit the moon. Missed by 36,800 km on 28 January 1962. Now in heliocentric orbit.
- Ranger 4 (USA) 23 April 1962. Impacted the
moon on 26 April 1962. Failure because transmissions failed shortly after liftoff.
- Ranger 5 (USA) 18 October 1962. This was
an intended impact mission. Failure because transmission failed soon after liftoff, missed
the moon by 725 km. Still in a solar orbit.
- Luna 4 (USSR) 2 April 1963. Landing
mission, missed moon by by 8336.2 km on 5 April 1963.
- Ranger 6 (USA) 30 January 1964. Impacted moon
2 February 1964 on the eastern edge of Mare Tranquillitatis (Sea of Tranquility), but
cameras did not work.
- Ranger 7 (USA) 28 July 1964. Impacted
the moon 31 July 1964 in an area between Mare Nubium and Oceanus Procellarum. Everything
worked, 4,308 photographs returned.
- Ranger 8 (USA) 17 February 1965.
Impacted the moon 20 February 1965 in Mare Tranquillitatis. Everything worked, 7,137
- Ranger 9 (USA) 21 March 1965. Impacted
the moon 24 March 1965 in the crater Alphonsus. Everything worked, 5,814 photographs were
- Luna 5 (Lunik 5) (USSR) 9 May 1965.
Impacted the moon in Sea of Clouds. A soft landing was intended, but the retrorocket
- Luna 6 (USSR) 8 June 1965. A soft
landing was intended. Because of a midcourse correction failure, the probe missed the moon
by 159,612.8 km and now in solar orbit.
- Zond 3 (USSR) 18 July 1965. Returned
pictures of the far side, now in solar orbit. It is believed Zond 3 was intended as a
companion to the Zond 2 probe to Mars, but the launch window was missed. Zond 3 did get as
far as the orbital distance of Mars, although no contact was made with Mars.
- Luna 7 (Lunik 7) (USSR) 4 October 1965.
A soft landing was intended but the retrorockets misfired and it impacted the moon in the
Sea of Storms.
- Luna 8 (USSR) 3 December 1965. A soft
landing was intended but a late retrorocket firing caused it to impact the moon in the Sea
- Luna 9 (USSR) 31 January 1966. Luna 9
was the first craft to successfully soft land on the moon in the Sea of Storms on 3
February 1966. It returned the first surface pictures.
- Luna 10 (USSR) 31 March 1966. Lunar orbit
achieved, as planned, on 3 April 1966. It conducted gravity studies for 460 lunar orbits
before its batteries gave out. The spacecraft played back to Earth 'The Internationale' during the Twenty-third Congress
of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
- Surveyor 1 (USA) 30 April 1966. Landed
on the moon in Oceanus Procellarum, 2 June 1966. Transmitted approximatedly 10,400
- Lunar Orbiter 1 (USA) 10 August 1966. Went
into lunar orbit, took photos of the far side. One camera did malfunction. Impacted moon
on command 29 October 1966.
- Luna 11 (Lunik 11) (USSR) 24 August
1966. Lunar orbit achieved, 137 transmissions were received before the batteries failed 1
- Surveyor 2 (USA) 20 September 1966. Soft
landing was intended, but during a midcourse correction, one vernier engine failed to
ignite causing the craft to tumble. It impacted on the moon.
- Luna 12 (Lunik 12) (USSR) 22 October
1966. Lunar orbit achieved. Radio transmissions from Luna 12 ceased on 19 January 1967
after 602 lunar orbits and 302 transmissions.
- Lunar Orbiter 2 (USA) 6 November 1966. Went
into lunar orbit, took photos of the far side, impacted on command 11 October 1967.
- Luna 13 (Lunik 13) (USSR) 21 December
1966. Soft landing on 24 December 1966, in the region of Oceanus Procellarum.
Transmissions ceased before the end of the month.
- Lunar Orbiter 3 (USA) 5 February 1967. Went
into lunar orbit, took photos of the far side, impacted on command 9 October 1967.
- Surveyor 3 (USA) 17 April 1967. Soft
landed 17 April 1967 in the southeastern part of Oceanus Procellarum and tested lunar
soil. The last data was returned on 4 May 1967. On 19 November 1969 the Apollo 12 Lunar
Module (LM) landed within about 180 m of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft. Astronauts Pete Conrad
and Alan Bean visited the spacecraft on their second moonwalk on 20 November, examining
Surveyor 3 and its surroundings, taking photographs, and removing about 10 kg of parts
from the spacecraft, including the TV camera, for later examination back on Earth.
- Lunar Orbiter 4 (USA) 4 May 1967. Went into
lunar polar orbit, took photos of the far side, orbit allowed to naturally decay and
impacted no later than 31 October 1967.
- Surveyor 4 (USA) 14 July 1967. Soft
landing failed, impacted the moon when signals were lost about 2.5 minutes before
- Explorer 35 (IMP-E, AIMP 2, AIMP-E)
(USA) 19 July 1967. Lunar orbit achieved. The spacecraft was turned off on 24 June
- Lunar Orbiter 5 (USA) 1 August 1967.
Went into lunar polar orbit, took photos of the far side, impacted upon command 31 January
- Surveyor 5 (USA) 8 September 1967. Soft
landing achieved 11 September 1967 in Mare Tranquillitatis. Transmissions ended 17
- Surveyor 6 (USA) 7 November 1967 Soft landing achieved 10 November 1967. Later made an 2.5 meter jump to enable photos to be
taken of its prior location. The spacecraft was shut down for the lunar night on 24 November 1967. Contact was again made 14 December 1967, but no usefuil data was received.
- Surveyor 7 (USA) 7 January 1968. Soft
landing achieved 10 January 1968. Mission objectives were fully satisfied.
- Luna 14 (Lunik 14) (USSR) 7 April 1968. Lunar orbit
achieved 10 April 1968.
- Zond 5 (USSR) 14 September 1968. Lunar
flyby (18 September 1968) and Earth return (21 September 1968). This was a test of a
man-rated Soyuz variant for a planned manned lunar flyby. The gyroscope was disabled and
reentry was at 20G's.
- Zond 6 (USSR) 10 November 1968. Lunar
flyby (14 November 1968) and Earth return (17 November 1968). This was a test of a
man-rated Soyuz variant for a planned manned lunar flyby. A gasket failure had caused a
depressurization of the unoccupied crew compartment.
- Luna 15 (Lunik 15) (USSR) 13 July 1969.
Craft entered lunar orbit for 52 orbits. Sample return mission failed and craft crashed on
surface 21 July 1969.
- Zond 7 (USSR) 8 August 1969. Lunar flyby
(11 August 1969) and Earth return (14 August 1969). This was a test of a man-rated Soyuz
variant for a planned manned lunar flyby. It was the only Zond flight which could have
returned a crew alive.
- Luna 16 (Lunik 16) (USSR) 12 September
1970. Soft landing achieved 20 September 1970 in the Sea of Fertility. A return vehicle
brought 100 grams of samples back to Earth on 24 September 1970.
- Zond 8 (USSR) 20 October 1970. Lunar
flyby (24 October 1970) and Earth return (27 October 1970). This was a man-rated Soyuz
variant left over from prior tests and was flown as a research mission. As with Zond 5,
the gyroscope became disabled and reentry was at 20G's.
- Luna 17/Lunokhod 1 (Lunik 17, Lunokhod 1) (USSR)
10 November 1970. Soft landing achieved with a automated Lunokhod 1 rover. Lunokhod
officially ceased operations on 4 October 1971, having traveled 10, 540 m, transmitted
over 20,000 TV pictures, over 200 TV panaorams, and conducted over 500 soil tests.
- Luna 18 (Lunik 18) (USSR) 2 September
1971. Unsuccessful return attempt, crashed during landing on the moon 11 September 1971.
- Luna 19 (Lunik 19) (USSR) 28 September
1971. Lunar orbit achieved 3 October 1971.
- Luna 20 (Lunik 20) (USSR) 14 February
1972. Successful landing 21 February 1972, 30 grams of samples returned to Earth 25
- Luna 21/Lunokhod 2 (Lunik 2, Lunokhod 2) (USSR)
8 January 1973. Soft landing achieved 15 January 1973 in the LeMonnier crater with a
automated Lunokhod 2 rover. The rover operated for 4 months, covering 37 km and sending
back over 80,000 TV pictures.
- Explorer 49 (RAE 2, Radio Astronomy Explorer)
(USA) 10 June 1973. Solar physics mission in lunar orbit 15 June 1973.
- Luna 22 (USSR) 29 May 1974. Lunar orbit
achieved 2 June 1974.
- Luna 23 (USSR) 28 October 1974. Landed
in the Sea of Crises, but was damaged during landing and the sample collection apparatus
could not operate. No samples were returned.
- Luna 24 (USSR) 9 August 1976. Successful
landing in the Sea of Crises, just a few hundred meters from Luna 23. 170 grams of samples
were returned to Earth on 22 August 1976.
- Muses-A (Hiten) (Japan) 24 January
1990. Two small Japanese orbiters achieved lunar orbit on 4 March 1990, but failed to send
back data. Hiten reentered the Earth's atmosphere 19 March 1990.
- Clementine (USA) 25 January 1994. Went into
lunar orbit and spent over 2 months mapping the lunar surface. The next phase of the
mission was to do a flyby of a near Earth asteroid but failed due to an onboard
malfunction of thrusters.
- AsiaSat3 (HGS 1) (Commercial, satellite, Hong Kong)
24 December 1997. Intended for a geosynchronous orbit, but a forth stage
malfunction left it in a malfunctioning orbit. The manufacturer (Hughes Global Services)
purchased the spacecraft back from the insurers and used two lunar flybys to successfully
place the satellite in a geosynchronous orbit around the Earth.
- Lunar Prospector (USA) 6 January 1998. Went
into lunar orbit until July 31, 1999, when it was intentionally impacted on the moon in an
effort to detect water on the moon.
- SMART-1 (ESA) 27 September 2003. Destined to
orbit the moon, this mission is primarily designed to demonstrate key technologies for
future deep space flight missions. An ion engine is foremost of these technologies. Lunar
orbit is scheduled for March 2005.
- KAJUYA (SELENE) (Japan) 14 September 2007. Japanese lunar orbiter
to obtain lunar surface topography and determine its mineral composition.
- Chang'e-1 (China) 24 October 2007. Chinese lunar orbiter
operated in collaboration with the European Space Agency. It will spend a year mapping the
lunar surface and performing other analytical tasks.
- Chandrayaan 1 (India) 22 October 2008. Indian lunar orbiter
which will map the lunar surface from a 100 km lunar orbit.
- LCROSS (USA) 18 June 2009. Lunar CRater
Observation and Sensing Satellite. A rocket was crashed into the lunar
surface to raise a cloud of debris. A following part (the Shepherding
Spacecraft) then analyzed the debris for the presence of water. A Lunar
Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) was also deployed.
- Chang'e 2 (China) 1 October 2010. Chinese lunar orbiter
built using many spare parts from Chang'e 1. Like Chang'e 1, it mapped the
lunar surface and performed similar analytical tasks. Now possibly dormant?
- ARTEMIS P1 (USA) 2 July 2011. Originally launched into Earth
orbit 17 February 2007 as THEMIS B. On 19 May 2008 the mission was extended.
NASA authorized a name change and a transition to lunar orbit which was
accomplished 2 July 2011.
- ARTEMIS P2 (USA) 17 July 2011.
Originally launched into Earth orbit 17 February 2007 as THEMIS C. On 19 May
2008 the mission was extended. NASA authorized a name change and a
transition to lunar orbit which was accomplished 17 July 2011.
- GRAIL (USA) 10 September 2011. Twin probes (GRAIL-A and GRAIL-B)
destined for lunar orbit at the beginning of 2012.
- LADEE (USA) 7 September 2013. The Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer
was initially in a highly elliptical Earth orbit that took it very near the moon. On 6 October 2013 it was
inserted into lunar orbit. LADEE carries an ultraviolet spectrometer, lunar dust experiment, neutral mass
spectrometer, and a laser communications experiment.
- Chang'e 3 (China) 1 December 2013. Chinese lunar probe and rover (Yutu)
landed south of crater Laplace F in the Mare Imbrium on 10 December 2013. The rover "Yutu hao" (rabbit)
drove down the Chang'e 3 ramp onto the lunar surface on 14 December 2013.
- Chang'e 5 T1 (China) 23 October 2014. Demonstrator probe to test the
heat shield on a lunar return probe. This test probe flew once around the moon and successfully returned to Earth on 1 November.
- Chang'e 4 Lunar Rover (China) 7 December 2018. Lunar rover. Targeted to land in the Von Karman crater
on the moon's far side in early January 2019.
- Chang'e 5 Lunar Sample Return (China) 23 November 2020. Lunar rover. It landed in the Mons Rümker region 1 December 2020, collected samples, returned to lunar obit 3 December 20209 and docked with the return vehicle on5 December 2020. Return to Earth will be about 16-17 December 2020.
Page last modified: 10 December 2020 12:22:03.