Fly Me to the Moon: Worldwide Cislunar and Lunar Missions

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The crowning achievement of the notorious Space Race between the United States and the Soviet Union occurred in July 1969, when the first humans landed on the Moon. Prior to this, the United States and the Soviet Union sent several uncrewed missions to the lunar surface, culminating in an American crewed mission on the Moon. Now, over 50 years later, nations are looking toward the Moon as a goalpost of both national space capability and pride. To achieve these goals—and potentially go beyond the Moon to Mars—nations will need to build significant cislunar and lunar infrastructure. This opensource assessment aggregates and analyzes publicly available statements, documents, and sources describing these worldwide efforts in cislunar space.

This assessment begins with an evaluation of national and international definitions of cislunar space, as there is no commonly accepted definition across the international or technical community.1 It then evaluates national and commercial plans to send missions to cislunar space or the Moon. The analysis presents an overview of national civil, military, and commercial activity, as well as multinational activity, in or planned for cislunar space. Lunar missions are also included to showcase the demand signal of missions that will pass through cislunar space or be supported by satellites in cislunar orbits. The assessment concludes with key trends, possible future flashpoints, and recommendations for further analysis.

Many nations view lunar and cislunar investments as a means to advance their domestic space industrial capabilities and as the first step toward a greater presence in near-Earth space. The scientific and economic potential of a robust space presence and international partnerships in space drives many companies and countries to pursue lunar and cislunar missions.2 The opportunities lunar and cislunar missions present have caused nations to begin designing policies to regulate and promote celestial resource extraction and in situ resource utilization (ISRU)—or the production and manufacture of materials found on the Moon or other celestial bodies.

The rush to settle cislunar space or the Moon is motivated both by science and the important strategic value held by certain sites in cislunar space or on the lunar surface. For various sites, certain physical properties add value, such as stability on orbit or the prospect of water in the form of ice. For more detail on these high-value locations, see: Eyes on the Prize: The Strategic Implications of Cislunar Space and the Moon. Aerospace



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