Throughout human history, the Moon was just a bright disk that regularly changed shape as different parts of it was illuminated by the Sun as it orbited the Earth. Then, with the start of the “space race” between the United States and the Soviet Union, the Moon became a target for robot probes, then humans. So, how many people went to the Moon throughout history? Were they successful?

Manned Moon Missions

In the early 1960s, the USSR was seen as the leader of the space race. However, the economic weakening and the early death of Sergey Korolev, the mastermind of space technology, forced the USSR to withdraw from this race. The USA took a big step to overtake the Soviet Union. Manned Moon missions were first undertaken by the United States as part of the “Apollo Project” between 1969 and 1974 as part of the Space Race.

From the Earth to the Moon

The first manned mission to the Moon was Apollo 11, which was the first space trip to send astronauts to the Moon. This vehicle, carrying lunar astronauts Neil Armstrong, Edwin Aldrin, and Michael Collins, entered lunar orbit on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong walked on the lunar surface right after the moon spider module landed in the Sea Of ​​Tranquility region of the Moon. Edwin Aldrin followed him 15 minutes later. The two spent a total of 21 hours and 36 minutes on the Moon’s surface. 

In 1998 Mr. Aldrin described the Moon’s surface as being covered in a fine dark grey “talcum powder-like dust” with a variety of scattered pebbles, rocks, and boulders.

“If you examine it under a microscope, you can see it’s made up of tiny, solidified droplets of vaporised rock resulting from extreme velocity impacts,” he said in an interview published by Scholastic.

  • Apollo 12 (November 14-24, 1969)

It was the sixth crewed flight in the United States Apollo program and the second to land on the Moon. It was launched on November 14, 1969, from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida. Commander Charles Pete Conrad and Lunar Module Pilot Alan L. Bean performed just over one day and seven hours of lunar surface activity while Command Module Pilot Richard F. Gordon Jr. remained in lunar orbit. 

Crew: Charles Conrad Jr., commander; Alan L. Bean, lunar module pilot; Richard F. Gordon Jr., command module pilot

 

  • Apollo 14 (January 31, 1971 – February 9, 1971)

It was the eighth crewed mission in the United States Apollo program, the third to land on the Moon, and the first to land in the lunar highlands. 

Crew: Alan B. Shepard Jr., commander; Edgar D. Mitchell, lunar module pilot; Stuart A. Roosa, command module pilot

 

  • Apollo 15 (July 26, 1971 – August 7, 1971)

It was the ninth crewed mission in the United States’ Apollo program and the fourth to land on the Moon. 

Crew: David R. Scott, commander; James B. Irwin, lunar module pilot; Alfred M. Worden, command module pilot

 

  • Apollo 16 (April 16-27, 1972)

It was the tenth crewed mission in the United States Apollo space program, the fifth and penultimate to land on the Moon, and the second to land in the lunar highlands.

Crew: John W. Young, commander; Charles M. Duke Jr., lunar module pilot; Thomas K. Mattingly II, command module pilot

 

  • Apollo 17 (December 7-19, 1972)

It was the final Moon landing mission of NASA’s Apollo program, and remains the most recent time humans have traveled beyond low Earth orbit.

Crew: Eugene A. Cernan, commander; Harrison H. Schmitt, lunar module pilot; Ronald E. Evans, command module pilot

The End of the Apollo Era

The Apollo 17 was the last trip to the Moon. Thus, the idea of ​​manned expeditions to the other planets was born. However, the long travel times and the excessive cost of these kind of projects have suppressed these thoughts for now. It seems that these kind of journeys will be possible with the advancement of the space technology in the future. We will see what is going to happen… 

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Simge TAŞMUM