As far as I know, the only serious projects for human exploration of the Moon have been the Apollo project, some other US studies with Gemini capsules and a couple of embryonic Soviet projects.

I see in Wikipedia that geologist and astronaut Harrison Schmitt, who became the last to set foot on the Moon, had aggressively pushed for his landing site to be on the far side of the Moon, aiming at the lava-filled Tsiolkovskiy crater. NASA managers rejected these plans because of the added risk and lack of funding.

How close was this proposal to success? Were there any other NASA studies for a human landing on this hemisphere?


1 Answer 1


As a data point (but as yet, not a complete answer in itself) I came across this paper whilst reading up on satellite antennae for another question: Lunar Far Side Communication Satellites, dated June 1968. It is a NASA technical report, for whatever that's worth.

It considered several tasks: relaying signals from a lunar module landed on the far side of the moon back to Earth, or to an orbiting command module, or to other sites on the far side of the moon. The paper does not make any reference to any mission plans, but the fact that it existed at all suggests that someone was putting a reasonable amount of thought into the possibility of manned landings there.

I'll see if I can turn up anything else that might cast some more light on the matter, but clearly studies existed.

Harrison Schmitt (the penultimate man on the moon) was apparently really keen to get one or more of the final planned Apollo missions to land on the far side, using a communications relay satellite at the Earth-Moon L2 point. I can't find details of his proposal(s), and although I can find multiple places saying that the idea was rejected by NASA due to the increased risk and lack of funding, I can't actually find any references for that, either.

  • $\begingroup$ If there were no more plans, as it seems, this answer is as good as it gets. I'll wait a couple of days and will be glad to accept it. Thanks for the effort. $\endgroup$
    – Ginasius
    Jan 7, 2020 at 11:36
  • $\begingroup$ @Ginasius np. I'd like to have found the proposals that Schmitt had made... they must be out there somewhere, but apparently my search-fu is weak :-( $\endgroup$ Jan 7, 2020 at 11:44

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