Landing on the Moon over the years has been a demonstration of the aerospace capabilities of a country. So far only four countries have done a controlled Moon landing, the last to get on this list was India on August 23rd, 2023, with the Chandrayaan-3 mission.
You may be thinking that the first controlled Moon landing ever was from the United States, but actually it was from the Soviet Union with the Luna 9 mission, which touched the Moon’s surface on February 3rd, 1966. The 99 kg lander took pictures from the Moon’s surface and performed radiation measurements. The spacecraft communicated for about 3 days.
The first spacecraft from the US to land on the Moon was Surveyor 1, on June 20th, 1966. The spacecraft didn’t carry any particular instruments for scientifical purposes, but it carried a number of sensors which transmitted data back to Earth, which helped engineers make design improvements for future missions, such as the Apollo 11, the first mission that landed on the Moon with humans onboard.
Many years passed before another country could achieve a controlled landing on the Moon. It was more than 40 years after the US that China accomplished it with the Chang’e 3 mission on December 14th, 2013. Chang’e 3 explored the Moon’s surface (topology, composition, and resources) including a depth analysis.
The last and most recent country to reach the Moon was India, with the Chandrayaan-3 mission. Departing from Sriharikota’s Space Center in India, the lander reached the Moon near its south pole, an unexplored area so far, and will take advantage of this to analyse the surface in this area. For India, this is a huge step on space exploration, since it is demonstrating its capability to build, launch and successfully land a mission in outer space.
Which country do you think will be the next one to explore the Moon’s surface?