It’s all about landing on the moon. | National Geographic

It's all about landing on the moon.  |  National Geographic

12 people on the moon

Apollo 11 was, as the name suggests, the eleventh space rocket to blast off from Earth to travel to the Moon. However, this was the first spaceflight to make a successful landing on the Moon. The definition of a lunar landing is that a manned or unmanned spaceship, which is made by humans, successfully lands on the surface of the moon. The first moon landing was in 1969. After this successful moon landing, NASA made five successful moon landings. This makes the total number of astronauts who have visited the Moon 12.

In addition to the 12 astronauts who were already on the lunar surface, there were also 12 other astronauts who reached the lunar field of influence. For example, astronauts in the command module. They circled the moon in anticipation of other astronauts, but they never walked on the moon. The crew of Apollo 13 is also among 12 astronauts who have made a spaceflight to the Moon but were not on the Moon.

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Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmidt were the last astronauts to set foot on the moon. They were two of three astronauts on the Apollo 17 mission in 1972. They spent three days on the lunar surface and drove over 35 kilometers in a lunar spacecraft to collect lunar surface data. After 1972, missions to the Moon were discontinued.

On December 14, 1972, Apollo 17 made the return trip from the Moon to Earth. So far, these astronauts are the last humans to land on the moon. According to space expert Eric Lan, the fact that there have been no more flights to the Moon yet is mainly due to a lack of financial resources. More than hundreds of people have participated in this project and billions have been invested in it. The Apollo space project cost $27 million at the time.

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Since today, the Apollo project is not only the most successful space project, but also the most expensive project in the history of space travel. This had something to do with the “Space Race”. America wanted to win this competition at any cost, and as a result millions were invested in space travel. After Neil Armstrong landed the first man on the moon, the Soviet Union focused on building space stations. The competition was won and the need to invest money in the lunar mission was gone. Although the missiles for the upcoming missions were already ready, there was no longer any political ambition to start these missions.

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After the first moon landing in 1969, the approach to space projects also changed. The focus has shifted to unmanned spaceflight. For example, satellites were launched to orbit the Earth. In addition, unmanned spacecraft such as Voyager 1 and 2 were launched. The last two objectives were to explore the solar system. As the focus shifted to unmanned spaceflight, the financial picture changed and so did the investments. NASA received 4% of the federal budget in 1965 for use in space development. In the 1970s this percentage was reduced to 1%. In the past 15 years, the proportion of the federal budget invested in space has been just 0.4%. With that number in mind, it may be a while before someone lands on the moon again. However, there are still ambitions to land a male and a female astronaut on the Moon by 2024. Expected costs? Between 20 and 30 billion dollars.

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