Moon Missions: in Progress, Scheduled, Proposed, Completed

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Updated July 27, 2009

Suddenly, happily, Moon Mission Planning and Launching is in High Gear all around the World

Moon Missions Report:


Missions Currently in Progress or Recently Completed


Launch Date


Latest News

Kaguya (Selene) (Japan)

September 14, 2007

Mission end: 
June 10, 2009

orbiter in 100 km polar orbit + two sub-satellites: a backside relay orbiter and an interferometry satellite for lunar gravity measurements. Investigation of lunar origins, technology for future exploration

Chang'e-1 (China)

October 24, 2007

Mission end:
March 1, 2009

$170 million polar orbiter - 3-D lunar imagery, soil properties and resource survey: 2000 kg, 12-month mission'e_1

Chandrayaan-1 (India) Launch Date: October 22, 2008 Details: $79 million, 525 kg lunar polar orbiter, 2 year mission to prepare 3 dimensional picture of the Moon's near and far side along with simultaneous photo-geological, chemical and mineralogical mapping. It also is planned as a technology demonstrator and suitable ground support systems.

Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (NASA - Goddard) & piggyback LCROSS

Launch Date: June 18, 2009 Placed in low polar orbit (50 km) for a 1-year mission, RO will return global data, such as day-night temperature maps, a global geodetic grid, high resolution color imaging and the moon's UV albedo. 

Missions under active development, nearing launch dates


Launch Date


GRAIL - Gravity Recovery and Interior Laboratory (NASA Discovery Mission)


This $375 M probe will fly twin spacecraft in tandem orbits around the moon for several months to measure its gravity field in unprecedented detail.

Proposed Italian Moon Mission (pdf file)


"Mission under study" announced at ILEWG 8 in Beijing. May carry some instruments left off of NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter



a landing platform with the moon rover.

Luna Glob - Russian lunar obiter/impactor/lander mission


Orbiter, plus salvo of 10 impactors to monitor seismic activity, and a soft lander at the south pole to look for ice

Chang'e-2 - China


lander, rover, sample return mission - camera, telescope and seismological gear

Moonlite - UK (with NASA, India support)


Moonlite would launch 4 high speed penetrators at various points of the lunar globe to create a seismic network

European Student Moon Orbiter - ESMO (SSETI)

2011 earliest

Design project of the Student Space Exploration and Technology Initiative (SSETI) - students from 15 countries involved

American Student Moon Orbiter - ASMO proposal

2011 earliest (doubtful)

NASA proposal, with NASA to provide setup, but financing private - not yet real

Proposed German Lunar Probe


Russia-India join Lunar Laboratory orbiter

2017 latest

International Lunar Observatory

by 2012?

Stanford on the Moon Project, SpaceDev, South Lunar Polar location

Trailblazer (TransOrbital - commercial)

Continues to slip - doubtful - instrumentation now superseded by Kaguya, Chang'e-1, Chandiryaan-1, Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

solid-fuel translunar injection (4-day transfer); lunar video/still imaging from polar elliptic orbit (50 km close approach, 10 km final orbit); 100 kg (220 lb.)

Various other proposed Missions


Estimated Launch Date


NASA Lunar lander (JPL?)


robotic lander mission, using Mars MER mission technology

South-Pole Sample Return (NASA?)

by 2012?

In the 2002 decadal "New Frontiers in the Solar System" report, high on the list was sample return from the Moon's South Pole-Aitken Basin

Chang'e Phase 3 (China - government)

by 2015

automated sample return

US human landing (government)


stated goal of President Bush's exploration vision, at risk of cancellation by next Administration

China human landing (government)


stated goal for China's space program

Japan Manned Moon Mission

2021-30 timeframe

Completed Missions


Launch Date - End Date



SMART-1 (ESA - government)

27 September 2003 - September 3, 2006

Solar electric propulsion with 16-month transfer orbit; lunar photographic survey from polar elliptic orbit (300 km close approach); 370 kg (810 lb.)

Reached Lunar Orbit 2/27/05, Lunar Science Mission completed, guided to controlled impact in Lacus Excellentiae 9/03/2006 .

Lunar Prospector (NASA)
Book by PI Alan Binder

January 6, 1998 - July 31, 1999

Orbiter; Range of scientific instruments (non-photographic); 100 km orbit, 295 kg (650 lb.)

Report on Results

Clementine (US BMDO/NASA)

January 25, 1994 - March 1994

Testbed flight for BMD space technologies; polar elliptical orbit, 400 km close approach; lunar photographic mapping, 227 kg

Findings Reports

Kaguya See first table above
Chang'e-1 See first table above


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