Luna 12

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Luna 12
Mission typeLunar orbiter
COSPAR ID1966-094A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.02508Edit this on Wikidata
Mission duration89 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeE-6LF
ManufacturerGSMZ Lavochkin
Launch mass1,640 kilograms (3,620 lb)[1]
Start of mission
Launch dateOctober 22, 1966, 08:42:26 (1966-10-22UTC08:42:26Z) UTC[2]
RocketMolniya-M 8K78M
Launch siteBaikonur 31/6
End of mission
Last contactJanuary 19, 1967 (1967-01-20)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Semi-major axis2,404.5 kilometres (1,494.1 mi)
Periselene altitude1,871 kilometres (1,163 mi)
Aposelene altitude2,938 kilometres (1,826 mi)
Inclination10 degrees
Period205 minutes
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertionOctober 25, 1966, 20:45 UTC

Luna 12 (E-6LF series) was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 12.


Luna 12 was launched towards the Moon from an Earth-orbiting platform and achieved lunar orbit on October 25, 1966. The spacecraft was equipped with a television system that obtained and transmitted photographs of the lunar surface. The photographs contained 1100 scan lines with a maximum resolution of 14.9-19.8 m. Pictures of the lunar surface were returned on October 27, 1966. The number of photographs is not known. Radio transmissions from Luna 12 ceased on January 19, 1967, after 602 lunar orbits and 302 radio transmissions.

Luna 12 was launched to complete the mission that Luna 11 had failed to accomplish—take high-resolution photos of the Moon's surface from lunar orbit. Luna 12 reached the Moon on October 25, 1966, and entered a 133 x 1,200-kilometer orbit. The Soviet press released the first photos taken of the surface on October 29—pictures that showed the Sea of Rains and the Aristarchus crater. Resolution was as high as 15 to 20 meters. Film was developed, fixed, dried automatically, and scanned for transmission to Earth. No further photos were ever released. After completing its main imaging mission, Luna 12 was put into a spin-stabilized roll to carry out its scientific mission, which was successfully fulfilled.

Luna 12 was the first soviet probe where deliberate steps were taken to prevent interception of its signals by Jodrell Bank Observatory.[3] When the probe was in the field of view of the observatory it began switch its signals between two different frequencies, something Jodrell Bank was not able to follow.[3]

Legacy and Status[edit]

On January 21, 1967, the Soviet news agency TASS announced that Luna 12 had completed its mission, breaking contact with ground stations.[4]

Preceded by
Luna 11
Luna programme Succeeded by
Luna 13


  1. ^ Siddiqi, Asif (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF) (second ed.). NASA History Program Office.
  2. ^ Siddiqi, Asif (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF) (second ed.). NASA History Program Office.
  3. ^ a b Ulivi, Paolo; Harland, David M (2004). Lunar Exploration Human Pioneers and Robot Surveyors. Springer. p. 74. ISBN 185233746X.
  4. ^ "Aeronautics and Astronautics, 1967" (PDF). NASA. p. 25. Retrieved December 21, 2021.

External links[edit]