A Summary of Lunar Exploration Missions

by Anne M. Platoff, Information Specialist, Solar System Exploration Division Library

U.S. and Soviet Missions to the Moon

Mission Country Date Objectives Results
Pioneer 1	U.S.A.		Oct 1958	lunar orbit	did not obtain lunar trajectory, reentered on 10/12/58
Pioneer 2	U.S.A.		Nov 1958	lunar orbit	did not achieve orbit
Pioneer 3	U.S.A.		Dec 1958	lunar probe	launch failure, reentered on 12/7/58
Luna 1	U.S.S.R.	Jan 1959	lunar impact	first lunar flyby, failed to impact
Pioneer 4	U.S.A.		Mar 1959	lunar probe	passed within 37,300 mi. of the moon
Luna 2	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1959	lunar impact	first lunar impact, impacted east of the Sea of Serenity area
Luna 3	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1959	lunar probe	first photographs of the lunar farside
Pioneer P-3	U.S.A.		Nov 1959	lunar orbit	launch failure, did not achieve orbit
Ranger 1	U.S.A.		Aug 1961	lunar probe	launch failure, did not escape Earth orbit, reentered on 8/30/61
Ranger 2	U.S.A.		Nov 1961	lunar probe	launch failure, did not escape Earth orbit, reentered on 11/20/61
Ranger 3	U.S.A.		Jan 1962	lunar landing	launch failure, missed the moon by 22,862 mi.
Ranger 4	U.S.A.		Apr 1962	lunar landing	computer failed, no telemetry received, crashed on the lunar farside
Ranger 5	U.S.A.		Oct 1962	lunar landing	missed the moon by 450 mi.
Sputnik 25	U.S.S.R.	Jan 1963	lunar probe	unsuccessful lunar attempt
Luna 4	U.S.S.R.	Apr 1963	lunar orbiter	contact lost, missed the moon
Ranger 6	U.S.A.		Jan / Feb 1964	lunar photography	cameras failed, no data returned, impacted in the Sea of Tranquillity area
Ranger 7	U.S.A.		Jul 1964	lunar photography	transmitted first close-up photos of the moon, impacted in the Sea of Clouds area
Ranger 8	U.S.A.		Feb 1965	lunar photography	transmitted high-quality photos of the moon, impacted in the Sea of Tranquillity area
Ranger 9	U.S.A.		Mar 1965	lunar photography	transmitted high-quality photos of the moon, impacted in the Crater of Alphonsus
Luna 5	U.S.S.R.	May 1965	lunar lander	first soft-landing attempt, crashed in the Sea of Clouds area
Luna 6	U.S.S.R.	Jun 1965	lunar lander	engine failed, missed the moon
Zond 3	U.S.S.R.	Jul 1965	lunar probe	photographed lunar farside
Luna 7	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1965	lunar lander	crashed in the Ocean of Storms area
Luna 8	U.S.S.R.	Dec 1965	lunar lander	crashed in the Ocean of Storms area
Luna 9	U.S.S.R.	Jan / Feb 1966 lunar lander	first lunar soft landing, first TV transmission from lunar surface, landed on in the Ocean of Storms area
Cosmos 111	U.S.S.R.	Mar 1966	lunar probe	unsuccessful lunar attempt
Luna 10	U.S.S.R.	Mar 1966	lunar orbiter	first lunar satellite, studied lunar surface radiation and magnetic field intensity, monitored strength and variation of lunar gravitation
Surveyor 1	U.S.A.		May / Jun 1966	lunar lander	first soft-landed robotic laboratory, landed in the Ocean of Storms area, returned high-quality images & selenological data
Lunar Orbiter 1	U.S.A.	Aug 1966	lunar orbiter	photographed over 2 million square miles of the MoonÕs surface, impacted on the lunar far side on 10/29/66
Luna 11	U.S.S.R.	Aug 1966	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite
Surveyor 2	U.S.A		Sept 1966	lunar lander	crashed near the Crater Copernicus
Luna 12	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1966	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, transmitted large-scale pictures of the Sea of Rains and the Crater Aristarchus, tested electric motor for lunokhod's wheels
Lunar Orbiter 2	U.S.A.	Nov 1966	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, photographed landing sites, impacted on Moon on 10/11/67
Luna 13	U.S.S.R.	Dec 1966	lunar lander	soft landed in the Ocean of Storms area, measured soil density and surface radioactivity
Lunar Orbiter 3	U.S.A.	Feb 1967	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, photographed landing sites, provided gravitational field and lunar environment data, impacted on moon on 10/9/67
Surveyor 3	U.S.A.		Apr 1967	lunar lander	soft-landed robotic laboratory, landed in the Ocean of Storms area, returned photographs and data on a soil sample
Lunar Orbiter 4	U.S.A.	May 1967	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, provided the first pictures of the lunar south pole, impacted on the moon on 10/6/67
Surveyor 4	U.S.A.		Jul 1967	lunar lander	radio contact lost 2 1/2 min. prior to landing, impacted in Sinus Medii area
Explorer 35	U.S.A.		Jul 1967	lunar orbiter (Interplanetary Monitoring Platform 6)	designed to use the moon as an anchor for probing interplanetary magnetic fields, plasma, and meteoroid fluxes
Lunar Orbiter 5	U.S.A.	Aug 1967	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, impacted on moon on 1/31/68
Surveyor 5	U.S.A		Sept 1967	lunar lander	soft-landed robotic laboratory, soft-landed in the Sea of Tranquillity
Surveyor 6	U.S.A.		Nov 1967	lunar lander	soft-landed robotic laboratory, soft-landed in the Sinus Medii area
Surveyor 7	U.S.A.		Jan 1968	lunar lander	soft-landed robotic laboratory, landed near the crater Tycho
Luna 14	U.S.S.R.	Apr 1968	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, studied gravitational field
Zond 5	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1968	circumlunar	first lunar flyby and Earth return, returned to Earth on 9/21/68
Zond 6	U.S.S.R.	Nov 1968	circumlunar	lunar flyby and Earth return, returned to Earth on 11/17/68
Apollo 8	U.S.A.		Dec 1968	piloted lunar orbital flight	first humans to orbit the moon (10 orbits)
Apollo 10	U.S.A.		May 1969	piloted lunar orbital flight	first docking maneuvers in lunar orbit, tested all aspects of a piloted lunar landing
Luna 15	U.S.S.R.	Jul 1969	lunar sample return	crashed in the Sea of Crises area
Apollo 11	U.S.A.		Jul 1969	piloted lunar landing	first humans on the moon, landed in the Sea of Tranquillity area on 7/20/69, 2 astronauts deployed experiments and collected lunar samples during lunar EVA
Zond 7	U.S.S.R.	Aug 1969	circumlunar	lunar flyby and Earth return, returned to Earth on 8/14/69
Cosmos 300	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1969	lunar probe	unsuccessful lunar attempt, reentered 9/27/69
Cosmos 305	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1969	lunar probe	unsuccessful lunar attempt, reentered 10/24/69
Luna 16	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1970	lunar sample return	first robotic sample return, collected lunar samples in the Sea of Fertility area and returned to Earth on 9/24/70
Apollo 12	U.S.A.		Nov 1969	piloted lunar landing	second group of humans on the moon, landed in the Ocean of Storms area on 11/19/69, 2 astronauts deployed experi-ments, collected lunar samples, and retrieved pieces of the Surveyor 3 spacecraft during lunar EVA
Apollo 13	U.S.A		Apr 1970	piloted lunar landing	aborted human landing attempt
Zond 8	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1970	circumlunar	lunar flyby and Earth return, returned to Earth on 10/27/70
Luna 17	U.S.S.R.	Nov 1970	lunar rover (Lunokhod 1)	first robotic rover, landed in the Sea of Rains area 
Apollo 14	U.S.A.		Jan / Feb 1971	piloted lunar landing	third group of humans on the moon, landed in the Fra Mauro area on 2/5/71, 2 astronauts deployed experiments and collected lunar samples during lunar EVA
Apollo 15	U.S.A.		Jul / Aug 1971	piloted lunar landing	fourth group of humans on the moon, landed in the Hadley Rille area on 7/30/71, 2 astronauts deployed experiments and collected lunar samples during lunar EVA with lunar roving vehicle
Luna 18	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1971	lunar lander	crashed in the Sea of Fertility area
Luna 19	U.S.S.R.	Sept 1971	lunar orbiter	lunar satellite, studied moonÕs gravitational field
Luna 20	U.S.S.R.	Feb 1972	lunar sample return	second robotic sample return, collected samples in the Sea of Crises area and returned to Earth on 2/25/72
Apollo 16	U.S.A.		Apr 1972	piloted lunar landing	fifth group of humans on the moon, landed in the Descartes area on 4/20/72, 2 astronauts deployed experiments and collected lunar samples during lunar EVA with lunar roving vehicle
Apollo 17	U.S.A.		Dec 1972	piloted lunar landing	sixth group of humans on the moon, landed in the Taurus-Littrow  area on 12/11/72, 2 astronauts deployed experiments and collected lunar samples during lunar EVA with lunar roving vehicle
Luna 21	U.S.S.R.	Jan 1973	lunar rover	robotic lunar rover, landed near the Sea of Serenity area
Luna 22	U.S.S.R.	May/Jun 1974	lunar sample return	lunar satellite
Luna 23	U.S.S.R.	Oct 1974	lunar sample return	landed on the southern part of the Sea of Crises, sampling device malfunctioned, no samples returned
Luna 24	U.S.S.R.	Aug 1976	lunar sample return	third robotic sample return, collected samples in the Sea of Crises area and returned to Earth 
Hiten (Muses-A)	Japan	Jan 1990	lunar satellite	studied gravity's effect on satellites, crashed on the moon on 4/11/93
Clementine	U.S.A.		lunar satellite	photographed the lunar surface

Sources: Grant Heikan, David Vaniman, and Bevan M. French; Lunar Sourcebook: A User's Guide to the Moon (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) p. 7; NASA, NASA Pocket Statistics (Washington, D.C.: NASA, 1994) pp. B72 - B78, B94 - B100; "Muses-A Ends Three-Year Mission, Crashes on Moon," Space News (Apr. 19-25, 1993) p. 17; Andrew Wilson, Solar System Log (London: JaneÕs, 1987).