Moon landing anniversary: 12 astronauts have walked on its surface
American astronauts Neil Armstrong (L), Michael Collins (C) and Edwin Aldrin (R) crew of Apollo 11. (Image courtesy of NASA)
The foot of American astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the surface of the Moon dated July 20, 1969. (Image courtesy of NASA)
The NASA control center in Houston, Texas, United States on July 19, 1969. (Image courtesy of NASA)
Madrid, Jul 8 (efe-epa).- Since the Soviet Union launched the first Luna-1 probe in 1959, around 60 manned and unmanned missions have been sent to the Moon.
The first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Earth’s only natural satellite was launched on January 2, 1959 as part of the Soviet luna program.
Russia, the United States, Japan, China, the European Union, India and most recently Israel have also carried out missions to the Moon and twelve NASA astronauts have walked on its surface.
The Soviet Union was the first country that managed to achieve an orbit and American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first set foot on the lunar surface with Apollo 11 in 1969.
They were not the only ones to reach the Moon, Apollo 11 was followed by another five missions each carrying three crew members.
In total there were 12 astronauts who walked on the surface and six who remained orbiting in a command module.
The last mission was Apollo 17 in 1972, with astronaut Gene Cernan the most recent person to set foot on the Moon.
Missions of the Apollo program since 1969:
- Apollo 11, launched July 16, 1969: Landed on the Moon four days after launch and on July 21 commander Neil Armstrong was the first person to walk on the moon and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin was the second, while command module pilot Michael Collins stayed in orbit. Armstrong and Aldrin used the Eagle lunar module to land on the surface.
- Apollo 12, launched on November 19, 1969: The mission's commander Charles "Pete" Conrad was the third man to walk on the Moon, followed by lunar module pilot Alan Bean, while command module pilot Richard Gordon remained in orbit.
- Apollo 13, launched on April 11, 1970: The crew had to abort the mission after an explosion in an oxygen tank. The three astronauts James Lovell, Fred Haise and John Swigert all returned safely to Earth.
- Apollo 14, launched on January 31, 1971: The crew consisted of commander Alan Shepard, the first NASA astronaut who traveled to space in 1961, lunar module pilot Edgar Mitchell and command module pilot Stuart Roosa.
- Apollo 15, launched on July 26,1971: Crew was composed of commander David Scott, lunar module pilot James Irwin and command module pilot Alfred Worden.
- Apollo 16, launched on April 16, 1972: The crew consisted of commander John Young, lunar module pilot Charles Duke and Thomas Mattingly as the pilot of the command module.
- Apollo 17, launched on December 7, 1972: The final mission of NASA’s lunar space program and the most recent time humans have walked on the surface of the Moon. It was the only nighttime release. Crew were commander Eugene Cernan, lunar module pilot Harrison Schmitt and Ronald Evans as the pilot of the command module that stayed orbiting the Moon. The mission saw the longest amount of time spent on the surface of three days. EFE-EPA