On July 21, 1969, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first men to set foot on the moon. Ten more Apollo astronauts followed in their footsteps until 1972 but since then, no humans have visited Earth’s closest companion in space.
Fifty years later, the race for the moon is starting anew with several countries and private companies announcing missions. After the successful landings of Chinese probes Chang'e 3 in 2013 and Chang'e 4 in January 2019, who will be the next space agency or company succeeding in landing the next spacecraft or putting the next man (or first woman) on the moon?
Our graphic gives a rundown of the main lunar missions announced to date. Given the remaining uncertainties surrounding some programs, the dates may be subject to change.
After two failed mission by the Israeli private company SpaceIL in April 2019 and the Indian space agency ISRO in July of that year, the next soft landings on the moon are scheduled by Russia this year, Japan in 2022, Turkey in 2023, the EU in 2025 and the United Arab Emirates in 2028 (even though it isn't clear if the UAE will send a lander or have their rover piggyback on another mission). Korea also just this week announced to a plan to place a lander on the moon by 2030. A private mission by a German company is also scheduled to take place this year, but the company backing the endeavor experienced some financial trouble, hinting at a possible delay.
Three U.S. companies - Astrobotic, Rocket Lab and Intuitive Machines – are scheduled to carry out a series of missions in anticipation of astronauts returning to the lunar surface starting this year. The missions contracted by NASA will see small satellites placed into the lunar orbit as well as different lander and rover missions, including by the Viper rover developed by NASA, that will prospect for water near a pole region. In 2022 and 2023, three more companies are joining the line-up, delivering more landers carrying payloads to the moon. Jeff Bezos' cargo lander Blue Moon is scheduled to follow suit in 2024.
The U.S. want to place another man (or woman) on the moon as early as 2024 as part of the Artemis missions 3 and 4. Historic rival for the moon, Russia, is following up with a manned lunar orbit flight scheduled for 2028. The EU and China are focusing of robotic missions researching possible resources utilization - for now.
Another independent private mission, "DearMoon", could see a Japanese billionaire accompanied by six artists making the first touristic flight around the moon in a SpaceX vessel as early as 2023.