How many people have walked on the Moon?
Last Updated: February 21, 2022
Between 1969 (Apollo 11) and 1972 (Apollo 17), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sent 12 astronauts to land and walk on the surface of the Moon. After more than 50 years, mankind is very close to returning to the Moon thanks to the Artemis mission which is scheduled to start around 2024. I thought it was important to talk about the people who have paved the way to the Moon and made space exploration possible.
Table of Contents
How many astronauts have walked on the Moon?
Apollo 11: two astronauts walked on the Moon
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were the first astronauts to walk on the Moon. They remained on the Moon for a total of 21.6 hours and their extravehicular activities (EVA) lasted approximately 2.5 hours. NASA recently commemorated the 50th anniversary of what is probably the most famous space mission in history.
Apollo 12: two astronauts walked on the Moon
Pete Conrad and Alan Bean were the next astronauts to step onto the Moon surface. Their mission was to execute manoeuvres for a precise landing and recover parts of the Surveyor 3 probe to bring back to Earth. They stayed on the Moon for a total of 31.5 hours and their lunar surface activities lasted about 7.8 hours.
Apollo 13: No one walked on the Moon
Apollo 13 was supposed to be the third mission to land on the Moon, with Jim Lovell and Fred Haise as designated Moonwalkers. Unfortunately, the mission was aborted after 2 days when an oxygen tank in the service module failed. The full story of this incident has been told in many books and space movies.
Apollo 14: two astronauts walked on the Moon
Alan Shepard and Edgar Mitchell were the selected Moonwalkers for this lunar mission. Their main objectives were to conduct scientific experiments concerning the composition of the lunar regolith and to collect lunar rock samples. They were on the Moon for a total of 33.5 hours and their lunar surface operations took about 9.4 hours.
Apollo 15: two astronauts walked on the Moon
David Scott and James Irwin became the seventh and eighth humans to set foot on the Moon. They not only walked on the Moon, but they also drove a lunar roving vehicle on its surface! Their lunar mission lasted a total of 66.9 hours and their extravehicular activity (EVA) lasted approximately 19.1 hours.
Apollo 16: two astronauts walked on the Moon
John Young and Charlie Duke were part of the 5th crew that landed on the Moon. Their goal was, as always, to search, inspect and sample materials from the surface for analysis on Earth. They remained on the Moon for a total of 71 hours and their extravehicular activities (EVA) lasted about 20.2 hours.
Apollo 17: two astronauts walked on the Moon
Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt landed on the Moon as part of the final Apollo mission in 1972. During one of their numerous Moonwalks, they travelled 4.7 miles away (7.6 km) from the lunar module. To date, no astronaut has ever been this far from the lunar module. They remained on the Moon for a total of 75 hours and their extravehicular activities (EVA) took about 22.1 hours.
Apollo astronauts commemorating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 17. From the left: David Scott, James McDivitt, Thomas Stafford, Buzz Aldrin, Eugene Cernan, Charles Duke, Richard Gordon, Fred Haise, Alan Bean and Edgar Mitchell. Credits: images.nasa.gov
Where did the astronauts set foot on the lunar surface?
The Apollo astronauts visited 6 different locations on the Moon. Their main mission was to conduct small experiments, study the Moon’s surface and collect samples to bring back to Earth for further analysis.
- Neil Armstong and Buzz Aldrin walked in the Sea of Tranquillity.
- Pete Conrad and Alan Bean became Moonwalkers in the Ocean of Storms.
- Al Shepard and Ed Mitchell landed in the Fra Mauro formation.
- Dave Scott and Jim Irwin touched down in Hadley Rille.
- John Young and Charlie Duke visited the Cayley Formation.
- Gene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt were the last people to walk on the Moon in the Taurus-Littrow Valley.
A map pointing out every Moon landing sites
The up-to-date list of every Moonwalkers
It is important to remember these astronauts, the pioneers of Moon exploration. Their bravery paved the way for the future generation to create a colony on the Moon and hopefully turn it into a launchpad to explore other planets in the solar system. We will update this list when missions to the Moon resume.
- Neil Armstrong – Apollo 11 in 1969
- Buzz Aldrin – Apollo 11 in 1969
- Pete Conrad – Apollo 12 in 1969
- Alan Bean – Apollo 12 in 1969
- Alan Shepard – Apollo 14 in 1971
- Edgar Mitchell – Apollo 14 in 1971
- David Scott – Apollo 15 in 1971
- James Irwin – Apollo 15 in1971
- John Young – Apollo 16 in 1972
- Charles Duke – Apollo 16 in 1972
- Gene Cernan – Apollo 17 in 1972
- Harrison Schmitt – Apollo 17 in 1972
Astronaut footprint in lunar soil
What about the Apollo astronauts who did not walk on the Moon?
For each Apollo mission, two astronauts were assigned to walk on the Moon and perform tests and experiments, while a third remained in the command module in orbit around the Moon. These 6 men, while taking as many risks as any other Apollo astronaut, never had the chance to set foot on the surface of the Moon. Although they have never walked on the Moon, I thought it was important to mention them in this article and pay tribute to their great contribution to the success of every Apollo lunar mission. These men are:
- Michael Collins
- Dick Gordon
- Stu Roosa
- Al Worden
- Ken Mattingly
- Ron Evans
What happened to the 12 astronauts who have walked on the Moon?
Most of the Apollo astronauts continued their careers at NASA after their moonwalk. They have participated in numerous outreach events to promote space exploration and have been key ambassadors for NASA. Even after retiring from NASA, some of them have carried on working toward the future of space exploration:
- Alan Shepard founded the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
- David Scott became a consultant for books and documentaries about the American space program.
- James Irwin founded the High Flight Foundation.
- Charles Duke is a chairman at the board of the Astronaut Scholarship Foundation.
- Buzz Aldrin has been very active and a strong advocate of space exploration, especially in regards to going to Mars.
Sadly, only four Moonwalkers are still alive today: Buzz Aldrin, David Scott, Harrison Schmidt and Charles Duke.
Frequently Asked Questions
Who was the first person to walk on the Moon?
The first person to ever set foot on the surface of the Moon is American astronaut Neil Armstrong during the Apollo 11 lunar mission in 1969. That is when he declared the very famous line: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
Who was the last person to walk on the Moon?
The last person to walk on the Moon was Gene Cernan in 1972. Just before he stepped into the lunar module for the last time, he declared: “We leave as we came and, God willing, as we shall return, with peace and hope for all mankind. Godspeed the crew of Apollo 17.”
Who is the next person to walk on the Moon?
We currently do not know who are the next astronauts to set foot on the Moon. The astronaut selection process still needs to be completed for the 2024 lunar mission.
Has a woman ever walked on the Moon?
Sadly, no woman has ever walked on the Moon yet. Luckily this is due to change in 2024 as NASA is planning to send the first woman to the Moon during the Artemis lunar mission.
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