NASA’s Lunar Quest Program includes the testing of equipment designed for a new mission to the moon. They are working on several new missions to the Moon. It all started on December 21, 1968 when Apollo 8 was the first manned satellite to orbit the Moon. It successfully orbited the moon and returned on December 27, 1968 with Frank Borman, James A. Lovell, and William A. Anders aboard. The launch vehicle was the Saturn 5.
The first man to set foot on the moon was during the Apollo 11 spaceflight on July 20, 1969. Neil Armstrong was followed by Edwin E. Buzz Aldrin Jr. Michael Collins stayed in the command module as it orbited the Moon to ensure a safe return to the Earth. Apollo 12 also had a command module orbiting the Moon for an efficient return trip.
On November 19, 1969 Charles Conrad and Alan L. Bean set up scientific experiments, took pictures, and collected samples of Moon rocks on two Moon walks. Richard F. Gordon stayed in the command module as it orbited the Moon. On April 17, 1970 Apollo 13 exploded shortly after leaving the launch pad, but James A. Lovell Jr., John L. Swigert Jr., and Fred W. Haise Jr. returned to Earth safely. Apollo 14 was successfully launched on February 5, 1971.
Apollo 15 was another successful launch on July 26, 1971. It included the first extraterrestrial automobile named Lunar Rover. On April 16, 1972 the Apollo 16 mission to the Moon successfully launched.
The last mission to the Moon was on December 7, 1972. Apollo 17 increased the mileage of the Lunar Rover obtained while exploring the Moon. Harrison H. Schmitt became the first scientist on the Moon during this mission.
On November 21, 2011 a series of tests for a robotic lander that will probably be used for the Lunar Quest missions successfully ended. The last test was at the height of one hundred feet.
The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter will be an unmanned flight designed to search for safe landing sites on the Moon. It will have seven instruments that will send back temperature measurements and improved typography of the Moon.
LADEE, or Lunar Atmosphere And Dust Environment Exploration has an integrated propulsion system that was recently finished. This is a giant step toward a possible unmanned launch in 2013. The propulsion system was built by Space Systems/Loral (SS/L) of Palo Alto, California. As of April 12, 2012 the installing of the components of the LADEE will soon begin. The components include a radiator panel, flight battery, component for powering up the spacecraft, and harness for the electrical wiring.
The LMMP, or Lunar Mapping And Modeling Project will supply materials for exploring the Moon online. It will include data from the Apollo missions and future data from LRO, LADEE, and other manned and unmanned missions to the Moon.