Seven nations, including India, the US and China, are planning to launch lunar missions in the near future, even as experts have sounded a word of caution about the impact these missions would have on moon's environment.
Japan, Germany, Britain and Italy are the other countries whose delegates made their countries' plans clear at the ongoing 58th Astronautical Congress on Wednesday.
"There is need for increased cooperation and coordination among countries to ensure that there is no pollution of lunar environment," said Roger-Maurice Bonnet, President, Committee on Space Research (COPSAR), France.
Ji Wu, director, of China's Centre for Space Science and Applied Research said that China would enter the lunar club with the launch of 'Change-1' by the end of the year. Two more orbiters will follow the launch of 'Change-1', he added.
"The goal is the utilisation of moon for the good of the entire humanity. Moon's extreme high and low temperatures can provide industrial resource," he said.
India is gearing up to launch 'Chandrayaan-1' by next year. JN Goswamy of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) said that the lunar orbiter will have two years life and it will carry 10 payloads.
While Japan has already entered the lunar club, the US is planning to inhabit the moon and use it as a stepping-stone to Mars and beyond.
Carol Russo, deputy director technological mission, at National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) said her country's strategy was to complete the International Space Station and use it as a base for future missions to the moon.
Germany is launching the Automated Transfer Vehicle (ATV) on Jan 31 2008, to prepare itself for the international and European moon mission.
"The lunar surface will be crowded by next year as four space crafts would have landed there. We can do a lot of work together", Goswamy said.