Since the dawn of time, humankind has gazed at the moon in wonder. Ancient civilizations worshiped and named gods after the moon. Early calendars were based on the lunar month. Science fiction writers, such as H.G. Wells and Jules Verne, wrote of going to the moon. How did the moon get there? Where did it come from? What was on it?

The moon's radius is 1737.4 km. Surface gravity is about 1/6 that of Earth's. The moon orbits the Earth once every 29.53 days (this of course played havoc on the Ancient Egyptians who had to add days to the calender to make up for the difference between the lunar months and the Earth's orbit around the sun). During the lunar month, the moon will go through a whole cycle of phases from new moon to full moon and back. The moon is at an average distance of 384,467 km from the Earth. Gravitational forces between the Earth and moon account for the tides of the oceans.


The moon has no atmosphere, therefore, no wind or water to cause erosion. Craters caused by impacts from meteors have remained on the moon since they were formed. On Earth, wind and rain and volcanic activity have erased most all of the impact craters created here during the Earth's formation.

First Photo from Lunar Surface

- Luna 9

The first spacecraft from Earth to reach the moon was the Soviet Luna 1 craft which performed a flyby to within 5995 km of the moon on January 4, 1959.


The first spacecraft from Earth to land on the moon was the Soviet Luna 2 which made a crash landing on September 14, 1959.


Luna 3 returned the first photos of the far side of the moon on October 7, 1959 from a distance of 63,500 km from the moon.


On February 3, 1966, Luna 9 became the first spacecraft from Earth to make a successful soft landing on the lunar surface. Luna 9 landed in Ocean Procellarum and sent back to Earth the first ever photos taken on the lunar surface.

First Photo of Far Side of Moon

- Luna 3

"We Choose to go to the Moon"



Walter M. Schirra, Jr.    *     Donn F. Eisele     *    Walter Cunningham

Launch Date: October 11, 1968    *    Splashed Down: October 22,1968

Apollo 7 was the first manned flight of the Apollo spacecraft. Apollo 1 was scheduled as the first manned Apollo flight, but fire broke out during a routine test on the pad, claiming the lives of astronauts Virgil Grissom, Edward White and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967. Apollo 7 was launched on a Saturn 1B rocket and performed earth orbit operations before splashing down in the Atlantic.



Frank Borman    *     James A. Lovell     *    William A. Anders

Launch Date: December 21, 1968    *   Lunar Orbit: December 24, 1968

Splashed Down: December 27, 1968

Man's first trip to the moon. For the first time in human history, man journeyed beyond the earth. Apollo 8 was the first manned launch using the mighty Saturn V booster and on Christmas Eve, Apollo 8 looped around the moon.



James A. McDivitt    *     David R. Scott     *    Russell Schweikart

Launch Date: March 3, 1969    *    Splashed Down: March 13, 1969

Apollo 9 orbited the earth 151 times testing the docking and performance of the Lunar Module (LM). This was the first test in space of the LM and set the stage for testing in lunar orbit.



Thomas P. Stafford    *     John W. Young     *    Eugene A. Cernan

Launch Date: May 18, 1969    *    Lunar Orbit: May 21, 1969

Splashed Down: May, 26, 1969

The dramatic dress rehersal, Apollo 10 entered lunar orbit and separated the LM (nicknamed Snoopy) from the Command Module (nicknamed Charlie Brown) and decended to within 9 miles of the lunar surface.



Neil A. Armstrong    *     Michael Collins     *    Edwin (Buzz) Aldrin

Launch Date: July 16, 1969    *    Lunar Landing: July 20, 1969

Splashed Down: July 24, 1969

"That's one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind", Neil Armstrong's first words as he became the first human in history to step onto the surface of another celestrial body. At 4:17 pm EDT, the Lunar Module (Eagle) became the first manned spacecraft to land on the surface of the moon. At 10:56 pm EDT, Neil Armstrong became the first human to set foot upon the moon. The landing site was Mare Tranquilitatis (Sea of Tranquility). Armstrong and Aldrin spent 2.53 hours outside on the lunar surface and returned 21.7 kg of samples to earth.



Charles (Pete) Conrad    *     Richard F. Gordon, Jr.     *    Alan L. Bean

Launch Date: November 14, 1969    *    Lunar Landing: November 18, 1969

Splashed Down: November 24, 1969

Landing only 183 meters from its target in the Ocean of Storms, the LM (Intrepid) was brought in almost entirely by computer and radar. Spending 7.75 hours outside on the lunar surface, astronauts Conrad and Bean took two moon walks and found and brought back parts from Surveyor 3 which made a soft landing in 1967.



James A. Lovell, Jr.    *     Fred W. Haise, Jr.     *    John Sweigert, Jr.

Launch Date: April 11, 1970    *    Splashed Down: April 17, 1970

"OK, Houston, we've had a problem here". Over 320,000 km from earth, enroute to the moon, an oxygen tank in the Service Module exploded leaving the Command Module (Odyssey) without power or air. The three astronauts had to use the LM (Aquarius) as a life raft. The LM was only intended for two people and only for decent and return from the moon. Now the LM had to house three people all the way to the moon and back. Since Odyssey had no power, the engines on Aquarius had to be used to maneuver the two spacecraft around the moon and head back to earth. Aquarius was designed only to land on the moon, where there is no atmosphere. She would burn up in reentry back to earth, so at the last moment, the astronauts returned to Odyssey and used its batteries to maneuver into earths atmosphere.



Alan B. Shepard, Jr.    *     Stuart A. Roosa     *    Edgar D. Mitchell

Launch Date: January 31, 1971    *    Lunar Landing: February 3, 1971

Splashed Down: February 9, 1971

Landing in the Fra Mauro region, Shepard and Mitchell spent over 9 hours outside on the lunar surface running extensive experiments and rock collecting. The flight marked the return to space for Alan Shepard, America's first man in space.



David R. Scott    *     James B. Irwin     *    Alfred M. Worden

Launch Date: July 26, 1971    *    Lunar Landing: July 30, 1971

Splashed Down: August 7, 1971

Spending over 19 hours outside on the lunar surface, Scott and Worden were the first to drive on the moon. The Lunar Rover made its debut in Hadley Rille. Covering over 27 km of terrain, the astronauts were able to survey a large portion of the landing area in greater detail.



John W. Young    *     Thomas K. Mattingly II     *    Charles M. Duke, Jr.

Launch Date: April 16, 1972    *    Lunar Landing: April 20, 1972

Splashed Down: April 27, 1972

A malfunction in the propulsion system of the LM (Orion) almost scrubbed the landing. But once on the lunar surface, Young and Duke spent 3 days exploring (20.23 hours outside on the surface). The landing area was Descartes, believed to be an area of active volcanism, but proved not to be the case. The Lunar Rover was able to achieve a top speed of 18 km/hr (11 miles/hour).



Eugene A. Cernan    *     Ronald E. Evans     *    Harrison H. Schmitt

Launch Date: December 7, 1972    *    Lunar Landing: December 11, 1972

Splashed Down: December 19, 1972

"Here Man completed his first exploration of the Moon, December 1972 A.D. May the spirit of peace in which we came be reflected in the lives of all mankind." Budget cuts axed Apollo 18, 19 and 20, so Apollo 17 became the last of the Apollo missions to the moon. Schmitt and Cernan landed in the Taurus-Littrow Valley and drove around almost 34 km of lunar ground. Schmitt was the first scientist to visit the moon (a geologist). They were the last men (so far) to walk on the moon.

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