Luna 2

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Luna 2 (rus. Moon 2/Луна 2)
Luna 2 Soviet moon probe.jpg
Luna 2
Mission type Lunar impactor
Harvard designation 1959 Xi 1
SATCAT № 114
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer OKB-1
Launch mass 390.2 kilograms (860 lb) (860.2 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date September 12, 1959, 06:39:42 (1959-09-12UTC06:39:42Z) UTC
Rocket Luna 8K72
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
Lunar impactor
Impact date September 14, 1959, 21:02:24 (1959-09-14UTC21:02:25) UTC
Impact site 29°06′N 0°00′E / 29.1°N -0°E / 29.1; -0

Luna 2 (E-1A series) was the second of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon, and the first man-made object to land on another celestial body.[1] On September 14, 1959, it successfully landed east of Mare Imbrium near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus.[2]

Launch was scheduled for September 9, but the Blok I core stage was shut down after it failed to reach full thrust at ignition. The booster was removed from the pad and replaced by a different vehicle, delaying the flight by three days. Luna 2, like Luna 1, took a direct path to the Moon, a journey of around 36 hours. The Earth-Moon gravitational system forced it to follow a curved trajectory, and launch had to occur from the side of the Earth opposite the Moon. Luna 2 hit the Moon about 800 kilometres from the centre of the visible disk 1959 September 13 at 21:02:24.[3]

Luna 2 site is near the right of the image, close to the Apollo 15 landing site

Luna 2 was similar in design to Luna 1, a spherical spacecraft with protruding antennas and instrument parts. The instrumentation was also similar, including scintillation counters, geiger counters, a magnetometer, Cherenkov detectors, and micrometeorite detectors. There were no propulsion systems on Luna 2 itself.[3]

Van Allen Radiation Belt[edit]

Luna 2 showed time variations in the electron flux and energy spectrum in the Van Allen radiation belt.

USSR pennants[edit]

The copy of the Soviet pennant sent on the Luna 2 probe to the moon, at the Kansas Cosmosphere

The spacecraft also carried Soviet pennants. Two of them, located in the spacecraft, were sphere-shaped, with the surface covered by identical pentagonal elements. In the center was an explosive charged designed to shatter the sphere, sending the pentagonal shields in all directions. Each pentagonal element was made of stainless steel and had the USSR Coat of Arms and the Cyrillic letters СССР ("USSR") engraved on one side, and the words СССР январь 1959 ("USSR January 1959") on the other side. They most likely vaporized on impact, however.[4] The third pennant was located in the last stage of the Luna 2 rocket, which collided with the moon's surface 30 minutes after the spacecraft did. It was a capsule filled with liquid, with aluminium strips placed into it. On each of these strips the USSR Coat of Arms, the words 1959 январь ("1959 January"), and the words СОЮЗ СОВЕТСКИХ СОЦИАЛИСТИЧЕСКИХ РЕСПУБЛИК (English: "Union of Soviet Socialist Republics") were engraved.

On September 15, 1959, the premier of the USSR, Nikita Khrushchev, presented the American president Dwight D. Eisenhower with a copy of the spherical pennant as a gift. That sphere is kept at the Eisenhower Presidential Library and Museum in Abilene, Kansas. The only other known copy of the spherical pennant is located at the Kansas Cosmosphere in Hutchinson, Kansas.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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