Luna (often simply called "the Moon" by humans) is the only natural satellite of Earth and the first celestial body visited by humanity during the First Space Age. It primarily serves as a center for mining operations, a location of extensive human settlement, and a waypoint for ships to refuel before moving to other planets and stations in the Solar System.
Luna has had a significant cultural and scientific impact on humanity long before it actually set foot on it. As the brightest object in the night sky, it was always prominently featured in religious and cultural myths, and many societies made use of a lunar calendar based on the cycles of Luna rather than the more common solar calendar in use today (and in fact, some still do). As Sol was often associated with masculine traits and male deities, Luna was often associated with feminine traits and female deities, such as the Roman goddess Luna from which it gets its modern name.
During the Renaissance era, the astronomer Galileo Galilei was the first to make observations indicating that Luna had a varied topography, after which Luna was mapped through telescopes with increasing accuracy, and its impact on terrestrial systems (most notably the tides) was more fully understood. A naming system was also put into place for Lunar features, applying names to craters and features that are still used today.
First Space Age
During the first space age (up until which Luna was more commonly known as simply "the Moon") from 1957 CE to 2018 CE, closer observation of the Moon was made possible through the use of remote-controlled probes in advance of a manned mission. The effort to land on Luna was part of a wider political and cultural rivalry between the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics called the "Space Race", itself part of the wider struggle of the First Cold War.
The victor in this race was the United States, when the Apollo 11 mission successfully delivered astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin to the Lunar surface and returned them to Earth. The success of Apollo 11 resulted in the expansion of the Apollo program with several more scheduled missions until Apollo 13 briefly mothballed the program after a catastrophic equipment failure nearly killed all three astronauts, though they were returned alive and the program resumed with Apollo 14 the next year.
During this time, the United States held a near monopoly over landings on Luna, but was not the only nation to do so. In 1981, the USSR made its first and only Lunar landing with the Luna-1 mission, where cosmonaut Yevgeny Khrunov landed in the Fra Muro crater and returned to Earth. In a similar vein, the European Space Agency landed the Selene 4 mission at Mare Orientale in 1992 and again at the South Pole-Aitken Basin, the first manned landing to land on the "Far Side of Luna", in 1993.
Despite these contributions, the Apollo missions remained the primary manned Lunar missions until 1978. after which two successive disasters with Apollo 25 and Apollo 26 ended in tragedy when 25 exploded shortly after takeoff, and 26 suffering a partial decompression on Lunar descent, causing an abort. These accidents, combined with a general public lethargy about the continuous Lunar missions, led to the final shuttering of the Apollo Program in February of 1978.
In 2020, interest was renewed when the United Nations Space Administration and the governments of Earth signed into being the Luna Accords, a modification of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 that allowed for civilian settlement and development of Lunar colonies, while prohibiting the construction of military bases or significant military presence on the Moon. Historians now hold this to be the beginning of the Second Space Age, where a massive outpouring of public interest in "Lunar homesteading" led to a flood of new migrants to the Moon, nearing almost 100,000 by 2030 and continually increasing for years afterward.
As Luna's population rose, development began to expand outside of simple self-sufficient habitats, beginning the first major Lunar mining operation In 2042, The International Ministry of Sciences purchased land on Luna and began construction of the Sagan Research Station in a polar orbit of Luna in order to research artificial gravity and fusion power in a special environment. In 2088, the first permanently operating cost-effective fusion reactor went into operation, benefiting from Luna's massive helium-3 deposits.
As of 2110, Luna forms a part of the "Holy Trinity" of mankind's activities, along with Earth and Mars. Extraction of metals and helium-3 have made Luna an invaluable source of resources for use both off the moon and on it, along with providing fuel for ships travelling between Earth and other bodies in the inner Solar System. Luna is also a thriving settler world, hosting sprawling cities and millions of humans who have either migrated to or were born on the moon, and is currently the second most populous inhabited body in the Solar System.
Potential for Terraformation
It has been suggested at many points that Luna could potentially be terraformed in a similar manner to the current project being undertaken on Mars. Proponents of lunar terraformation will often point to the Moon's close proximity to Earth, the well-established settler population, and its smaller size requiring less resources for raising its environment to one habitable for human settlement.
However, no current plans for terraformation are taken seriously. Luna, despite its large population, is too small and gravitationally weak to maintain an atmosphere that would be capable of sustaining an Earth-like environment for any significant period of time (on a geological scale) without continual upkeep from Earth. As of now, Luna will remain barren.
States of Luna
Between 2026 and 2039, the major nations participating in the colonization of Luna established the 'States of Luna', a collection of autonomous commonwealths meant to provide the thousands of lunar colonists a stable, lunar-run government. The United States established the first commonwealth in July of 2026 and the last State was officially established in February of 2039.
The States of Luna, in order of establishment, are as follows:
|Name||Parent Nation||Date of Establishment||Capital||Population (2110)|
|Commonwealth of Apollo||United States of America||July 20th, 2028||Eagle||2.595 million|
|Republic of Copernicus||European Federal Union||January 27th, 2030||Luton||1.158 million|
|Republic of Janubii||Union of Arab Republics||March 16th, 2031||Ta'lab||898 thousand|
|State of Jutrobog||Eurasian Association||May 9th, 2031||Tsiolkovsky||795 thousand|
|Republic of Tuskuyomi||Asian Economic and Defense Union||April 30th, 2032||Chang'e||1.399 million|
|State of Bahloo||Oceanic Republic||August 1st, 2035||Aitken City||1.992 million|
|Commonwealth of Iah||African Federation||September 4th, 2036||Kumani||915 thousand|
|State of Coniraya||Union of South American Nations||February 17th, 2039||San Dominic||786 thousand|