Mars 5M

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Mars 5M, also known as Mars 79 (Russian: Марс-5М, or Марс-79) was a cancelled Mars sample return mission that the Soviet Union was planning in the 1970s.


Initially, the Mars 5NM and the Mars 4NM missions were proposed in the 1970s with the launch of a super-heavy N1 rocket. The rocket was to launch in 1975 with a Mars landing in 1977. But in 1973, due to the failure of the N-1, this project was cancelled.

A new project was designed, based on heavy Proton rocket: a double launch and a dock in Earth orbit for a joint flight of Mars 5M components to Mars. The return capsule, which would weigh 8.7 kg, would contain 500 g of martian soil sample. The project was approved in early 1974 for a take-off in 1979. Tests were conducted but the docking system, Igla, a critical component of the mission, experienced failures: Soyuz 25 failed to dock with the Salyut-6 space station. The government's attitude to this project changed. A report denouncing the whole enterprise as highly uncertain was published and in 1978, Mars 5M was cancelled. All the models were destroyed.

Now, Lavochkin is planning a new Mars sample return project called Mars-Grunt.

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