The Luna program was a pioneering attempt that helped in bringing mankind closer to the moon than ever before in history.
Luna-1 became the first man-made object to escape the geocentric orbit whereas the glory of being the first man-made object to impact the surface of the moon squarely belongs to Luna-2.
Luna-2 was launched on 12 September 1959 by the Luna 8K72, it showed time variations in the electron flux and energy spectrum in the Van Allen radiation belt. Using ion traps on board, the satellite made the first direct measurement of solar wind flux from outside the Earth's magnetosphere.
(Image Courtesy: www.nasa.gov)
USA, Apollo 11
The United States has been the only country to ever put people on the moon. Commander Neil Armstrong and lunar module pilot Buzz Aldrin landed the Apollo Lunar Module Eagle on July 20, 1969.
Six hours later Armstrong became the very first person to step on the moon's surface. The spacecraft was launched by a Saturn V rocket from Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, Florida and was the fifth crewed mission of NASA's Apollo program.
Apollo 11 achieved its primary mission to perform a manned lunar landing and return the mission safely to Earth. Moreover, it paved the way for the Apollo lunar landing missions to follow.
(Image Courtesy: www.nasa.gov)
Hiten (originally called Muses-A) was an ISAS (Japanese Space Agency) Earth-orbiting satellite designed primarily to test and verify technologies for future lunar and planetary missions, was launched on January 24, 1990.
Hiten was launched into a highly elliptical Earth orbit on a Mu-3SII-5 rocket from Kagoshima Space Center in Japan.
It was a cylindrically shaped spacecraft, 1.4 m in diameter and 0.8 m high. The small polyhedral-shaped Hagoromo lunar orbiter was mounted on top of the spacecraft. The fully fueled mass of Hiten was 197 kg, this included 42 kg of hydrazine fuel and the 12 kg Hagoromo orbiter.
China, Chang'e 1
Chang'e 1 was an unmanned Chinese lunar-orbiting spacecraft, part of the first phase of the Chinese Lunar Exploration Program which was launched on 24 October 2007 from Xichang Satellite Launch Center. The spacecraft was named after the Chinese Moon goddess, Chang'e.
The spacecraft produced a full high-resolution lunar map with a 400-foot resolution.
It tested technologies to prepare for future Chinese moon landings. It was eventually commanded to impact the lunar surface.
Chandrayaan-2 is the successor mission of Chandrayaan-1 which was India's first mission to the moon. It operated for almost a year (between October 2008 and August 2009). The lunar orbiter is best known for helping to discover evidence of water molecules on the moon.
Just five days before the 50th anniversary of man's first lunar landing, Chandrayaan-2 or Moon Chariot 2 will blast off from Satish Dhawan Space Centre, Sriharikota in Andhra Pradesh state on July 15 at 2.51 am after a decade-long build-up.
The mission will also highlight how far space travel has advanced since Neil Armstrong's giant leap for mankind during the Apollo 11 mission.