The Evolution of Lunar Exploration
In the 1960s, the United States and the Soviet Union engaged in a historic superpower Moon race, which culminated in 12 men exploring the surface of the Moon. During Moon 1.0 we explored less than 1% of a new world with more territory than the Americas.
On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first human beings to set foot on the Moon. The first human steps on the Lunar surface from the Apollo 11 Lunar Module, the Eagle, was the highlight of an extended U.S. program to study and map the Moon and fulfilled the promise of President John F. Kennedy that the U.S. would land a man on the Moon before the end of the decade. The scientific return from these missions was immensely important and included nearly complete high-resolution imaging of the lunar surface, lunar samples, topographic, seismic, and gravity data, and information on the lunar environment
This first era of lunar exploration, "Moon 1.0", began with the robotic space probe Ranger-7 impacting the Moon on July 31, 1964, saw several robotic missions by the Soviet Union, six manned landings by the United States, and reached a dramatic conclusion on December 14th, 1972, as Apollo 17 Astronauts Captain Gene Cernan and Dr. Harrison Schmitt became the last men on the Moon.
Moon 1.0 was driven by national prestige and superpower politics with no economic agenda. It was a magnificent technological achievement of the age, but it was a dead end.
Moon 2.0 represents the second era of lunar exploration, which began on September 13th, 2007 with the announcement of the $30M Google Lunar X PRIZE competition.
Moon 2.0 is driven by multi-national interests & commercial economic opportunity, characterized by international participation, broad objectives, commercial players and public participation.
Technology advancements over the last 40 years have opened lunar access to commercial enterprises. Space agencies are encouraging and funding private participation in lunar exploration.
The Moon is a stepping stone to the rest of the solar system and a source of solutions to some of the most pressing environmental problems that we face on Earth. The renewed exploration of the Moon begins with robot explorers that help us scout out the Moon to deliver new knowledge about the Moon and the Earth. Eventually they will be followed by people with the goal of permanently integrating the Moon into Earth’s economic and social spheres, the beginning of a multi-world system for Humanity.
With the advent of Moon 2.0, the efforts of governments are joined by a growing interest from the private sector to partner in the permanent return to Earth's sister world. This time we are in search of energy, resources, and answers that will help us understand our home planet and secure Humanity's future.