The moon has been a focus of fascination for as long as humans have gazed skyward. It’s no surprise that with fascination comes curiosity, and the human kind has always been curious about what lies outside the planet Earth.
Till date, many attempts have been made to successfully send astronauts to the moon, but only seven countries have so far been able to land on the moon or obit the moon as a part of a successful or semi-successful mission.
Even with all the advanced technology available, space investigation is still a super costly and dangerous venture. Huge amounts of money are used in the research, development, and dispatching of probes into space along with training space explorers.
There is likewise an exceptionally high possibility that things could turn out wrong as mishaps do happen such as the Challenger Disaster of 1986 and the Columbia Space Shuttle Explosion in 2003. The United States is the main nation to have been successful in sending astronauts to the moon. On the other hand, China, Japan, India, Russia (the USSR) and the European Space Agency, are some of the countries that have visited the moon through probes.
Let’s have a look at the countries that have been to the moon.
The very first human to land on the moon was an American named Neil Armstrong, who was sent to for moon landing by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in 1969. Prior to this successful attempt, scientific studies of the moon were conducted with the help of unmanned probes that were sent to the moon. Several more probes have been sent to the moon after this, with the latest one being launched on 7th September 2013.
Overall, the US tops the list with 30 completed successful missions to the moon or its orbit between 1959 and 2013
Often referred to as the “space race”, a few space exploration attempts were conducted by the USSR during the cold war time period. Tests were carried out in private to ensure that the information would not be leaked out to the West.
Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin was a cosmonaut and Soviet Air Forces pilot who became the first human to journey into outer space. Afterward, the USSR additionally sent missions to the moon. These lunar missions were automated and were led from 1958 to 1976. Data about the tests and dispatches were uncovered in 1991, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.
Two probes Selene and Hiten were launched by Japan, not long after recovering from the Second World War. Both the probes orbited the moon before crashing on its surface as planned. Hiten was Japan’s first robotic lunar probe and was built by the Institute of Space and Astronautical Science of Japan and launched on January 24, 1990. Whereas, Selene was the second Japanese lunar orbiter spacecraft following the Hiten probe that was launched September 14, 2007, and crashed on June 10, 2009.
Two lunar orbiters have also been launched by China, the first one named Chang’e-1, which was launched on October 24, 2007 and crashed on March 1, 2009. Whereas the second one named Chang’e-3, which managed to land a rover on the surface of the moon
India has successfully completed a lunar orbit and impactor mission (Chandrayaan-1) in 2008. The Chandraayan 2 was launched on July 22, 2019.
European Space Agency
In 2003, the European Space Agency (ESA) drove by the moon with the unmanned exploratory probe SMART-1. a Swedish-designed European Space Agency satellite. It was able to successfully capture clear pictures of the moon before crashing into it as planned.
How many people have landed on the moon?
Including Aldrin and Armstrong, a total of 12 astronauts have walked on the moon. The other 10 who made it to the moon took part in five further Nasa launches, between 1969 and 1972.
These missions were undertaken by Apollo 12, Apollo 14, Apollo 15, Apollo 16 and Apollo 17. Here is a list of astronauts that have landed on the moon.
- Neil Armstrong – Apollo 11, 1969
- Buzz Aldrin – Apollo 11, 1969
- Pete Conrad – Apollo 12, 1969
- Alan Bean – Apollo 12, 1969
- Alan Shepard, Apollo 14, 1971
- Edgar Mitchell – Apollo 14, 1971
- David Scott – Apollo 15, 1971
- James Irwin – Apollo 15, 1971
- John Young – Apollo 16, 1972
- Charles Duke – Apollo 16, 1972
- Gene Cernan – Apollo 17, 1972
- Harrison Schmitt – Apollo 17, 1972