Now that it is not on the governmental list of things to do, commercial companies are proposing missions to the moon at a rapid pace. Lunar missions have not had this activity planning since the Apollo program. The commercial companies now have the means to complete such missions having the funding and technology that is necessary for success. Many companies have now set their sights on missions to the moon planning to land on the surface in the very near future! So far, China, the United States, and the Soviet Union are the only three nations to soft-land on the moon. The companies that have actual planned missions include Astrobotic, SpaceIL, iSpace, and Blue Origin. Instead of being a nationalistic dream, it is now thought of as a marketplace. The profitability for the companies mainly stems from companies hiring them to put other company hardware on the moon or hire them to mine minerals from the moon crust. Under the Trump administration, the United States is getting back on board pushing toward commercial activity on the moon. NASA has recently produced a clear message: there will be no production of robotic missions in-house. Instead, NASA is providing encouragement for commercial companies to take charge.

Future lunar missions include the following:

Chandrayaan-2 – Planned for late 2018 – Chandrayaan-2 is India’s second lunar mission, consisting of an orbiter and rover, which will perform in-situ analysis of rock and soil samples. The rover portion of the mission was originally slated to be the Russian Luna-Glob 2, but the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) withdrew in the wake of the Phobos-Grunt failure due to technical aspects shared with Luna-Glob, and ISRO continued development on their own rover separately.

SpaceIL’s Lunar Lander – Planned for 2019  – While the other Google Lunar X Prize teams developed large rovers to move the required 500 meters on the Moon’s surface, in order to conserve mass, SpaceIL developed the idea of a space hop: to have the spacecraft land and then take off again with the fuel left in its propulsion system, and then perform another landing 500 meters away. SpaceIL is aiming to break new scientific ground by taking first-of-their-kind measurements on the surface of the Moon.

Astrobotic’s Peregrine Lunar Lander aboard United Launch Alliance Rocket – Planned for 2019 – The Peregrine Lunar Lander will fly 35 kilograms of customer payloads on its first mission, with the option to upgrade to 265 kilograms on future missions.  Already 11 deals from six nations have been signed for this 2019 mission.  The first mission in 2019 will serve as a key demonstration of service for NASA, international space agencies, and companies looking to carry out missions to the Moon.

iSpace’s Lunar Lander – Planned for 2020 and 2021 –  iSpace will fly two HAKUTO-R missions, an orbiter and a lander, as secondary payloads on SpaceX Falcon 9 launches. The orbiter is scheduled to launch in a window that opens in mid-2020 and the lander in mid-2021. The first HAKUTO-R mission will place a spacecraft with a total mass, fully fueled, of 550 kilograms into orbit around the moon. The second mission will be a lander, weighing 1,400 kilograms, including a small rover. Both are intended to demonstrate ispace’s capabilities in delivering payloads to the moon for future commercial customers.

Luna-25 – Planned for 2021 – Luna 25 is a planned lunar lander mission by Roscosmos. It will land near the lunar south pole at the Boguslavsky crater. It was renamed from Luna-Glob lander to Luna 25 to emphasize the continuity of the Soviet Luna program from the 1970s, though it is still part of what was at one point conceptualized as the Luna-Glob lunar exploration program.

Luna-26 – Planned for 2022 – Luna 26 is a planned lunar polar orbiter, part of the Luna-Glob program, by the Russian space agency Roscosmos. In addition to its scientific role, the Luna 26 orbiter would also function as a telecom relay between Earth and Russian landed assets.

Blue Origin’s Lunar Lander – Planned for 2023 –  Blue Origin’s lunar lander is capable of bringing several metric tons of cargo to the Moon. Bezos has also expressed ambitions to orchestrate a moon landing by 2023 and to eventually establish a lunar colony.

Luna-27 – Planned for 2023 – Luna 27 is a planned lunar lander mission by the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) with collaboration by the European Space Agency (ESA) to send a lander to the South Pole–Aitken basin, an unexplored area on the far side of the Moon. Its objective will be to detect and characterize lunar polar volatiles. The mission is a continuation of the Luna-Glob program.

Chang’e 6 – Planned for 2024 – Chang’e 6 is an unmanned Chinese lunar exploration mission currently speculated to be under development. Chang’e 6 will be China’s second sample return mission. Like its predecessors, the spacecraft is named after the Chinese moon goddess Chang’e.

Luna-28 – Planned for 2025 – Luna 28 (Luna Resource 2 or Luna-Grunt rover) is a proposed sample-return mission from the south polar region of the Moon. It is proposed to launch no earlier than 2025, and it would be composed of a stationary lander and a lunar rover. The rover would bring soil samples back to the lander and transfer them into the ascent stage, which would launch and insert itself into a 100-kilometer lunar orbit. While in lunar orbit, the soil-carrying capsule would be intercepted by an orbiting return module, which would perform all rendezvous operations and transfer the samples. After reloading the samples, the return vehicle separates from the orbiter and heads to Earth, while the orbital module continues its mission in the lunar orbit for at least three years.