The Moon is the only celestial body on which humans have landed. While the Soviet Union's Luna programme was the first to reach the Moon with unmanned spacecraft in 1959, the United States' NASA Apollo program achieved the only manned missions to date, beginning with the first manned lunar orbiting mission by Apollo 8 in 1968, and six manned lunar landings between 1969 and 1972—the first being Apollo 11. These missions returned over 380 kg of lunar rocks, which have been used to develop a detailed geological understanding of the Moon's origins (it is thought to have formed some 4.5 billion years ago in a giant impact event involving Earth), the formation of its internal structure, and its subsequent history.
After the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, the Moon has been visited only by unmanned spacecraft, notably by the final Soviet Lunokhod rover. Since 2004, Japan, China, India, the United States, and the European Space Agency have each sent lunar orbiters. These spacecraft have contributed to confirming the discovery of lunar water ice in permanently shadowed craters at the poles and bound into the lunar regolith. Future manned missions to the Moon have been planned, including government as well as privately funded efforts. The Moon remains, under the Outer Space Treaty, free to all nations to explore for peaceful purposes.
In the early 22nd century It was the site of humanity's first official contact with the Arilou Lalee'lay, who appeared here the day after Earth's joined the Alliance of Free Stars and sought to be admitted into the Alliance also. After the defeat of the Alliance in the Ur-Quan Slave War after 2134 just before the slave sheilding in 2135., then at some point by 2155 the Hierarchy built a Moon Base as a garrison for the newly created Earthguard.