The year 2022 will be a record-breaking year for lunar missions. In some cases, orbiters will begin searching for prospective resources, while some will make their initial landing on the lunar south pole. A fleet of rovers will also scurry around the Moon’s surface. Several of these missions are part of NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) Programme, which pays commercial spaceflight companies to transport payloads to the Moon’s surface in preparation for the future Artemis landings.
Spacecraft from national space agencies and commercial firms in India, Japan, Russia, and South Korea are preparing to travel to the Moon. While the James Webb Space Telescope and NASA’s Space Launch System have received a lot of attention in 2021, it appears that lunar rush hour is about to begin.
Intuitive Machines, Nova-C IN-1
Nova-C IN-1, a lunar lander set to fly as part of NASA’s CLPS programme in summer 2022, will carry five NASA payloads, CubeSats, and a mini-rover from the UK-led business Spacebit.
CAPSTONE is a tiny CubeSat that will launch in May 2022 for a nine-month mission to test the gravitational stability of the orbit for NASA’s Gateway lunar space station.
Roscosmos 25, Luna 25
The Russians are returning to the Moon after 46 years, this time to explore the composition of lunar soil at the south pole. The Luna 25 mission is scheduled to launch on July 22, 2022.
Indian Space Research Organization, Chandrayaan-3
India’s third lunar mission will be a second landing attempt, following the failure of Chandrayaan-2 in 2019. ISRO plans to launch the new Chandrayaan-3 lander in the second part of 2022.
The Peregrine lander, another CLPS mission from the US company Astrobotic, is scheduled to launch in mid-2022. It will transport NASA payloads and rovers from the United Kingdom, Chile, Japan, Mexico, and Hungary.
Korea Aerospace Research Institute, Korea Pathfinder Lunar Orbiter
This orbiter, South Korea’s first effort into planetary exploration, is primarily a technology showcase, but it will also explore resources such water, ice and aluminum. It is scheduled for an August 1 takeoff
ispace, a Japanese spaceflight business that competed in the Google Lunar X Prize, will land a commercial payload on the moon in October 2022, though they have a future deal with ESA to retrieve lunar water.
Intuitive Machines, Nova-C IM-2
In late 2022, less than a year after its first attempt, Intuitive Machines will try a second landing on the Moon. This time, it will travel to the lunar south pole with the goal of digging 1m into the surface in search of water ice.
JAXA’s Smart Lander for Moon Investigation (SLIM)
This Japanese space agency demonstration mission will seek to land with high precise accuracy by using software built from facial recognition technology to identify lunar craters.