© 2018

Early Exploration of the Moon

Ranger to Apollo, Luna to Lunniy Korabl


Part of the Springer Praxis Books book series (PRAXIS)

Also part of the Space Exploration book sub series (SPACEE)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xiii
  2. Tom Lund
    Pages 1-5
  3. Tom Lund
    Pages 50-97
  4. Tom Lund
    Pages 155-212
  5. Tom Lund
    Pages 213-228
  6. Tom Lund
    Pages 229-290
  7. Tom Lund
    Pages 291-302
  8. Tom Lund
    Pages 363-369
  9. Back Matter
    Pages 388-391

About this book


Luna 2, launched by the USSR in 1959, was the first spacecraft from Earth to land on the moon. That first voyage was followed by increasingly capable lunar exploration spacecraft from Russia and the United States. A total of 36 successful lunar exploration missions were conducted from 1959 to the last Apollo manned exploration in 1972 and the final travels of the Lunokhod lunar rover in 1973. Of all the missions, that of Apollo 17 was the pinnacle of manned space exploration. Apollo 17 astronauts traveled 21 miles on the lunar surface in a dune buggy-type vehicle, stopping frequently to explore and gather samples.

The spacecraft that enabled lunar exploration were ingenious, and reflected the best efforts of talented people working with the technology of the day. This book showcases the engineering involved in those incredible machines. The spacecraft covered, and their missions, are listed below.

From the United States:

• Ranger – Photography en route to lunar impact

• Lunar Orbiter – Photography of front and back side of moon

• Surveyor – Soft landing, photography, and soil analysis

• Apollo – Manned exploration. Lunar Rover expanded range 

From the USSR:

• Luna 2 – Photography en route to lunar impact

• Luna 3 – Photography of back side of moon on flyby

• Luna 9 and 13 – Soft landing, photography, and soil analysis

• Luna 10, 11, 12, 14 – Photography from lunar orbit

• Luna 16, 20, 24 – Soft landing, return of soil sample to Earth

• Lunokhod-1, -2 – Lunar roving vehicle driven from Earth

• L1 – Planned manned lunar flyby but only flew unmanned

• L3 – Planned manned lunar landing but never flew to moon 

To tell the story of these spacecraft, Tom Lund draws on over 40 years’ work on aircraft and spacecraft systems. He was technical lead for the landing radars for the Surveyor and Apollo spacecraft, and his practical experience is augmented by master’s degrees in electrical engineering, physics, and business administration.


Ranger lunar photography Surveyor lunar landing Apollo program Russian lunar exploration Russian Luna Lunokhod L1 L3 LOK orbiter LK lander apollo command module apollo service module lunar roving Cold War lunar exploration Moon missions

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.San DiegoUSA

About the authors

Thomas Lund worked 50 years as an aerospace engineer. After graduating from college, he began working on the Terrier surface-to-air missile from initial design to flight test. He then spent three years as Electronics Officer in the U.S. Navy evaluating naval air-to-air missile systems against electronic countermeasures. He went on to analyze the Doppler navigation systems and then functioned as technical lead for development of the landing radar for the Surveyor spacecraft. He was instrumental in winning the contract for the landing radar for the Apollo Lunar Module and functioned as technical lead for development of that radar. He worked as Technical Director of the Advanced Systems group for a major aerospace company and led the development of three new product lines in areas of fiber optics, radar altimeters, and missile detection radars. Latterly, he was a consultant for predesign and analysis of the Rendezvous Radar for the Space Shuttle.

Bibliographic information

Industry Sectors


“For anyone interested in learning more about the technology behind Apollo and its predecessors, I would recommend this book as an interesting and useful reference.” (Peter Bond, The Observatory, Vol. 139 (1273), December, 2019)