THE last manned mission to the Moon was just under 50 years ago but Nasa has plans to send another in the next five years.
If you’ve ever wondered how long it takes to get to there or just how far away the lunar surface is, we’ve got the answers for you.
How long does it take to get to the Moon?
On average it takes around three days for a manned spacecraft to get to the Moon.
This is based on the nine manned missions to the Moon and the six which landed on it’s surface.
The exact average time for all these missions was about three days and six hours.
It does depend on a lot of factors including where the Moon is in orbit, the size of the spacecraft and the fuel it uses.
Unmanned spacecraft can get to the Moon a lot faster.
The speediest time was set by Nasa’s New Horizons spacecraft and it only took eight hours and thirty five minutes to get to the Moon.
A fuel efficient European Space Agency spacecraft called SMART 1 took 13.5 months to get there in 2003.
As space technology advances it’s likely we’ll be able to cut manned Moon journey times down further.
How far away is the Moon?
The distance of the Moon from Earth can change depending on where it is in orbit.
At its furthest point the Moon is around 252 088 miles (405 696 km) away from Earth.
Astronomers called this point the ‘apogee’.
The closest point is called the ‘perigee’ and puts the Moon around 225 623 miles (363 104 km) from us.
The Moon – our closest neighbour explained
Here’s what you need to know…
- The Moon is a natural satellite – a space-faring body that orbits a planet
- It’s Earth’s only natural satellite, and is the fifth biggest in the Solar System
- The Moon measures 2,158 miles across, roughly 0.27 times the diameter of Earth
- Temperatures on the Moon range from minus 173 degrees Celcius to 260 degrees Celcius
- Experts assumed the Moon was another planet, until Nicolaus Copernicus outlined his theory about our Solar System in 1543
- It was eventually assigned to a “class” after Galileo discovered four moons orbiting Jupiter in 1610
- The Moon is believed to have formed around 4.51billion years ago
- The strength of its gravitational field is about a sixth of Earth’s gravity
- Earth and the Moon have “synchronous rotation”, which means we always see the same side of the Moon – hence the phrase “dark side of the Moon”
- The Moon’s surface is actually dark, but appears bright in the sky due to its reflective ground
- During a solar eclipse, the Moon covers the Sun almost completely. Both objects appear a similar size in the sky because the Sun is both 400 times larger and farther
- The first spacecraft to reach the Moon was in 1959, as part of the Soviet Union’s Lunar program
- The first manned orbital mission was Nasa’s Apollo 8 in 1968
- And the first manned lunar landing was in 1969, as part of the Apollo 11 mission
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