Exploring the Moon

People have dreamed of exploring the Moon for hundreds of years. The United States and Russia made the dream a reality in the middle of the 20th century. In 1959, Luna 1- the first spacecraft to leave the Earth’s gravity – was launched toward the Moon. A decade of intense space activity followed as Russian and American probes, robots, and crewed craft were sent to investigate and land on the lunar surface.

The Clementine space mission, launched in 1994, and Lunar Prospector, launched in 1998, found evidence that water ice is hidden in shadowed craters in the Moon’s Polar regions. The ice probably comes from comets that crashed into the Moon long ago. It could be either melted to supply a future Moon base with water, or broken down into oxygen for astronauts to breathe and into hydrogen for rocket fuel.

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