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Luna 4, or E-6 No.4 was a Soviet spacecraft launched as part of the Luna program to attempt the first soft landing on the Moon. Following a successful launch, the spacecraft failed to perform a course correction and as a result it missed the moon, remaining instead in Earth orbit.
Luna 4 was launched by a Molniya-L carrier rocket at 08:16:37 UTC on 2 April 1963. Launch occurred from Site 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. After reaching an initial parking orbit of 167 by 182 kilometres (104 by 113 mi), the rocket's upper stage restarted to place Luna 4 onto a translunar trajectory.
The spacecraft did not perform a required midcourse correction manoeuvre, which resulted in it missing the Moon by 8,336.2 kilometres (5,179.9 mi) at 13:25 UT on April 5, 1963. It then entered a barycentric 90,000 × 700,000 km Earth orbit. A lecture program entitled "Hitting the Moon" was scheduled to be broadcast on Radio Moscow at 7:45 p.m. the evening of April 5 but was cancelled. The spacecraft transmitted at 183.6 MHz at least until April 6.
The purpose of this experiment was to obtain information on the characteristics of the lunar surface. These characteristics include the amount of cratering, structure and size of craters, the amount, distribution, and sizes of ejecta, mechanical properties of the surface such as bearing strength, cohesiveness, compaction, etc. Determination and recognition of processes operating to produce the lunar surface features also were among the objectives of this photographic experiment.
Payloads are separated by bullets ( · ), launches by pipes ( | ). Manned flights are indicated in bold text. Uncatalogued launch failures are listed in italics. Payloads deployed from other spacecraft are denoted in brackets.