1970 in spaceflight

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1970 in spaceflight
Orbital launches
First11 February
Last12 December
National firsts
Satellite Japan
Orbital launch Japan

Japan and China each launched their first satellites in 1970, bringing the total number of nations with independent launch capability to five.

Apollo 13 was launched; after suffering an explosion in deep space it had to circumnavigate the moon and use the LM as a life boat. Apollo 13 was a successful disaster in which the crew survived. The Soviet space program continued its Luna program with Luna 17, which delivered the robotic Lunokhod 1 rover to the lunar surface, and Luna 16, which achieved the first uncrewed lunar sample return. The Soviets also continued the success of the Venera Venus probes with Venera 7, the first man-made spacecraft to successfully land on another planet and to transmit data back to Earth, though it only survived 23 minutes on the surface.


This is a list of spaceflights launched in 1970.

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome


11 February Japan Lambda-4S Japan Kagoshima Japan Japan
Japan Ohsumi Tokyo University Low Earth Technology 2 August 2003 Successful
First satellite launched by Japan


3 March
United Kingdom Black Arrow United Kingdom Woomera United Kingdom RAE
RAE Low Earth Test LV In orbit Successful


11 April
United States Saturn V (C-5) United States Kennedy LC-39A United States NASA
United States Apollo 13 CSM Odyssey NASA Intended: Lunar orbit
Actual: Lunar free return
Crewed lunar orbit. 15 April 1970 Failure
United States Apollo 13 LM Aquarius NASA Intended: Lunar landing
Actual: Lunar free return
Crewed lunar landing 15 April 1970 Failure
Explosion in Service Module crippled spacecraft, resulting in mission abort. Mission aborted due to CSM malfunction. LM used to help bring crew back to Earth.
24 April China Long March 1 Rocket China Jiuquan China PRC
China Dong Fang Hong I PRC Low Earth Test satellite In orbit Successful
First satellite launched by China


1 June
Soviet Union Soyuz (R-7/A-2) Soviet Union Baikonur Site 1 Soviet Union RVSN
Soviet Union Soyuz 9 RVSN Low Earth Crewed Orbital Spaceflight 19 June 1970
Longest Crewed flight involving only one spacecraft. (As of 09/06/06)
1 June
United Kingdom Black Arrow United Kingdom Woomera United Kingdom RAE
United Kingdom Orba RAE Low Earth Micrometeoroid detection satellite In orbit Failure
First British attempt to launch a satellite. Failed to reach orbit after premature 2nd stage cutout.


12 September
Soviet Union Proton-K/D Soviet Union Baikonur 81/23 Soviet Union
Luna 16 Selenocentric Lunar lander 24 September Successful
First uncrewed lunar sample return, first Soviet lunar sample return


20 October
Soviet Union Proton-K/D Soviet Union Baikonur 81/23 Soviet Union
Zond 8 Highly elliptical Spacecraft test In orbit Successful
Final circumlunar flight of the Zond program.


12 December
United States Scout B Italy San Marco mobile range, Kenya Italy CNR
United States Uhuru NASA Low Earth X-ray astronomy 5 April 1979 Successful
First satellite dedicated to X-ray astronomy.

Launches from the Moon[edit]

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
21 September
Soviet Union Luna 16 Ascent stage Mare Fecunditatis (Luna)
Soviet Union Luna 16 Return capsule Soviet Union Highly elliptical Sample return 24 September 1970 Successful
First uncrewed lunar sample return mission

Deep Space Rendezvous[edit]

Date (GMT) Spacecraft Event Remarks
11 April 1970 Apollo 13 S-IVB stage Impacted the Moon
15 April Apollo 13 Lunar flyby at 254 kilometres (158 mi) Intended lunar landing, forced to abort and return to Earth using lunar free return trajectory
20 September Luna 16 100gm from Mare Fecunditatis First sample return mission
24 October Zond 8 Circumlunar flight of the Moon 1,110 kilometres (690 mi)
17 November Luna 17 Delivered Lunokhod 1 at Mare Imbrium First robotic Lunar rover
15 December Venera 7 Atmospheric probe worked for 23 min on the Venerian surface First soft landing on another planet


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 Spaceflight portal
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  • Kyle, Ed. "Space Launch Report". Archived from the original on 5 October 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2022.
  • McDowell, Jonathan. "Jonathan's Space Report".
  • Pietrobon, Steven. "Steven Pietrobon's Space Archive".
  • Wade, Mark. "Encyclopedia Astronautica".
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