Luna programme

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Luna 1
Luna 3
Luna 16
Luna 17
Locations of Luna landings on the Moon are marked in red; Apollo missions in green, and Surveyor in yellow.

The Luna programme (from the Russian word Луна "Luna" meaning "Moon"), occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik by western media, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration. They also performed many experiments, studying the Moon's chemical composition, gravity, temperature, and radiation. Twenty-four spacecraft were formally given the Luna designation, although more were launched. Those that failed to reach orbit were not publicly acknowledged at the time, and not assigned a Luna number. Those that failed in low Earth orbit were usually given Cosmos designations.[1] The estimated cost of the Luna programme was about $4.5 billion.

Achievements[edit]

Luna 1 missed its intended impact with the Moon and became the first spacecraft to fall into orbit around the Sun.

In 1959, the Luna 2 mission successfully hit the Moon's surface, becoming the first man-made object to reach the Moon.

Luna 3 rounded the Moon later that year, and returned the first photographs of its far side, which can never be seen from Earth.

Luna 9 became the first probe to achieve a soft landing on another planetary body (February 1966). It returned five black and white stereoscopic circular panoramas, which were the first close-up shots of the Lunar surface.

Later that year Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon.

Luna 17 and Luna 21 carried vehicles that roamed around on the Moon's terrain (see Lunokhod programme).

Another major achievement of the Luna programme, with the Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 spacecraft, was the ability to collect samples of lunar soil and return them to Earth, by 1970. The programme returned 0.326 kg of lunar samples. The Luna missions were the first space-exploration sample return missions to rely solely on advanced robotics.

Other notable missions[edit]

Luna 15, also designed to return soil samples from the lunar surface, underwent its mission at the same time as the Apollo 11 mission. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were already on the lunar surface when Luna 15 began its descent, and the spacecraft crashed into a mountain minutes later.

Failed missions[edit]

While the programme was active, it was Soviet practice not to release any details of missions which had failed to achieve orbit. This resulted in Western observers assigning their own designations to the missions, for example Luna E-1 No.1, the first failure of 1958 which NASA believed was associated with the Luna programme was known as Luna 1958A.[2]

NASA identified a spacecraft which it referred to as Luna 1966A as having launched on 30 April 1966, a spacecraft referred to as Luna 1969B as having launched on 15 April 1969, and a spacecraft referred to as Luna 1970B as having launched on 19 February 1970.[2] When details of Soviet launches were later disclosed, no launches of Luna spacecraft were found to have occurred on those dates.[3][4]

Missions[edit]

Public name Internal name Mission Launch date Carrier rocket Outcome Remarks
N/A E-1 No.1 Impactor September 23, 1958 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-1 No.2 Impactor October 11, 1958 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-1 No.3 Impactor December 4, 1958 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 1 E-1 No.4 Impactor January 2, 1959 Luna Launch failure Also known as Mechta; placed onto incorrect trajectory, flew past the Moon without impacting; first spacecraft to escape geocentric orbit
N/A E-1A No.1 Impactor June 18, 1959 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 2 E-1A No.2 Impactor September 12, 1959 Luna Successful Impacted Palus Putredinis (29.10 N, 0.00 E) on the Moon on September 14, 1959 at ~07:30:00 UT
Luna 3 E-2A No.1 Flyby October 4, 1959 Luna Successful Took first photographs of the far side of the moon.
N/A E-3 No.1 Flyby April 15, 1960 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-3 No.2 Flyby April 16, 1960 Luna Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-6 No.2 Lander January 4, 1963 Molniya-L Launch failure Never left LEO
N/A E-6 No.3 Lander February 3, 1963 Molniya-L Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 4 E-6 No.4 Lander April 2, 1963 Molniya-L Spacecraft failure Failed to perform course correction manoeuvre; flew past the Moon
N/A E-6 No.6 Lander March 21, 1964 Molniya-M Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-6 No.5 Lander April 20, 1964 Molniya-M Launch failure Failed to orbit
Kosmos 60 E-6 No.9 Lander March 12, 1965 Molniya-L Launch failure Never left LEO, decayed five days later
N/A E-6 No.8 Lander April 10, 1965 Molniya-L Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 5 E-6 No.10 Lander May 9, 1965 Molniya-M Spacecraft failure Failed to decelerate; impacted Mare Nubium
Luna 6 E-6 No.7 Lander June 8, 1965 Molniya-M Spacecraft failure Failed to perform course correction manoeuvre; flew past the Moon
Luna 7 E-6 No.11 Lander October 4, 1965 Molniya Spacecraft failure Attitude control failure; impacted Oceanus Procellarum
Luna 8 E-6 No.12 Lander December 3, 1965 Molniya Spacecraft failure Attitude control failure; impacted Oceanus Procellarum
Luna 9 E-6 No.13 Lander January 31, 1966 Molniya-M Successful Landed in Oceanus Procellarum (7.08 N, 295.63 E) 18:44:52 UT on February 3, 1966
Kosmos 111 E-6S No.204 Orbiter March 1, 1966 Molniya-M Launch failure Never left LEO, decayed two days later
Luna 10 E-6S No.206 Orbiter March 31, 1966 Molniya-M Successful
Luna 11 E-6LF No.101 Orbiter August 24, 1966 Molniya-M Successful
Luna 12 E-6LF No.102 Orbiter October 22, 1966 Molniya-M Successful
Luna 13 E-6M No.205 Lander December 21, 1966 Molniya-M Successful Landed in Oceanus Procellarum (18.87 N, 297.95 E) 18:01:00 UT on December 24, 1966
N/A E-6LS No.112 Orbiter February 7, 1968 Molniya-M Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 14 E-6LS No.113 Orbiter April 7, 1968 Molniya-M Successful
N/A E-8 No.201 Rover February 19, 1969 Proton-K/D Launch failure Failed to orbit
N/A E-8-5 No.402 Sample Return June 14, 1969 Proton-K/D Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 15 E-8-5 No.401 Sample Return July 13, 1969 Proton-K/D Spacecraft failure Entered selenocentric orbit successfully, failed during descent on 21 July 1969; impacted the moon while Apollo 11 was on the surface
Kosmos 300 E-8-5 No.403 Sample Return September 23, 1969 Proton-K/D Launch failure Never left LEO, decayed four days later
Kosmos 305 E-8-5 No.404 Sample Return October 22, 1969 Proton-K/D Launch failure Never left LEO, decayed two days later
N/A E-8-5 No.405 Sample Return February 6, 1970 Proton-K/D Launch failure Failed to orbit
Luna 16 E-8-5 No.406 Sample Return September 12, 1970 Proton-K/D Successful Landed in Mare Fecunditatis (0.68 S, 56.30 E) at 05:18:00 UT on September 20, 1970. Sample returned to Earth on September 24, 1970
Luna 17 E-8 No.203 Rover November 10, 1970 Proton-K/D Successful Landed in Mare Imbrium (38.28 N, 325.00 E) at 03:47:00 UT on November 17, 1970. Deployed Lunokhod 1
Luna 18 E-8-5 No.407 Sample Return September 2, 1971 Proton-K/D Spacecraft failure Entered selenocentric orbit successfully, failed during descent; impacted Mare Fecunditatis (3.57 N, 50.50 E)
Luna 19 E-8LS No.202 Orbiter September 28, 1971 Proton-K/D Successful
Luna 20 E-8-5 No.408 Sample Return February 14, 1972 Proton-K/D Successful Landed in Mare Fecunditatis (3.57 N, 56.50 E) at 19:19:00 UT on February 21, 1972. Sample returned to Earth on February 25, 1972
Luna 21 E-8 No.204 Rover January 8, 1973 Proton-K/D Successful Landed in Le Monnier (25.85 N, 30.45 E) at 23:35:00 UT on January 15, 1973. Deployed Lunokhod 2
Luna 22 E-8LS No.206 Orbiter May 29, 1974 Proton-K/D Successful
Luna 23 E-8-5M No.410 Sample Return October 28, 1974 Proton-K/D Spacecraft failure Landed in Mare Crisium, fell over upon landing
N/A E-8-5M No.412 Sample Return October 16, 1975 Proton-K/D Launch failure Failed to orbit, intended to return a sample from Mare Crisium
Luna 24 E-8-5M No.413 Sample Return August 9, 1976 Proton-K/D Successful Landed in Mare Crisium (12.25 N, 62.20 E) at 02:00:00 UT on August 18, 1976. Sample returned to Earth on August 22, 1976

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Planetary Spacecraft - Moon Missions (RussianSpaceWeb.com)
  2. ^ a b Williams, David R. "Tentative IDs". NASA NSSDC. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  3. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 
  4. ^ Zak, Anatoly. "Russia's unmanned missions toward the Moon". RussianSpaceWeb. Retrieved 3 August 2010. 

External links[edit]

Media related to Luna programme at Wikimedia Commons