May 30, 2023, 11:01am EDT
East Asia

The countries trying to send people to the moon this decade

A rocket, carrying the Shenzhou-16 spacecraft and three astronauts, takes off from the launching area of Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center for a crewed mission to China's Tiangong space station.
China Daily via REUTERS

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The tug-of-war for space is heating up, from private companies like Elon Musk’s SpaceX launching new satellites and investing in “space tourism” to governments planning moon missions in a new era of lunar exploration.

Following China’s announcement on Monday that it hopes to land a person on the moon by 2030, here’s a breakdown of the countries trying to pull off similar missions.

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China announced its new lunar ambitions ahead of sending its first civilian into space on Tuesday.

The country is preparing for a “short stay on the lunar surface and human-robotic joint exploration,” the deputy director of the Chinese Manned Space Agency told reporters.


In 2020, China brought back lunar samples for the first time in four decades.


For now, the United States remains the only country to have achieved a crewed landing on the moon.

NASA is now eyeing future crewed missions for 2025 and 2029: The 2025 mission aims to “land the first woman and the next man” on the moon, according to the agency.

Meanwhile, plans are in the works for a privately-funded, week-long trip on a SpaceX rocket that will launch into space and around the moon.


Every seat on the mission, tentatively scheduled for this year, was bought by Japanese billionaire Yusaku Maezawa, who has picked a group of eight people to join him, including an American DJ, a K-pop star, and an Indian television actor. Maezawa hopes the trip will inspire them to create new art.


In 1959, the Soviet Union sent the first spacecraft to the moon’s surface. Now, Russia is planning for a crewed flight around the moon in 2029. Roscosmos, the country’s space operation, also has a number of unmanned moon missions in the works, starting this July with a rover that will explore the moon’s surface.

Rover missions

Several other countries plan to send rovers to the moon in the next decade, including Mexico, India, Japan, Israel, and Canada.