Zond 4

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Zond 4 (Soyuz 7K-L1 s/n 6)
Zond L1 drawing.png
Zond 4
Major contractors OKB-1
Bus Soyuz 7K-L1
Mission type Lunar flyby
Spacecraft test
Launch date 2 March 1968
18:29 UTC
Carrier rocket Proton-K/D
Launch site Baikonur
Mass 5,140.00 kilograms (11,331.76 lb)

Zond 4, part of the Soviet Zond program and an unmanned version of Soyuz 7K-L1 manned Moon-flyby spacecraft, was one of the first Soviet experiments towards manned circumlunar spaceflight. It was launched to test the spaceworthiness of the new capsule and to gather data about flights in circumterrestrial space. It was the first Soviet spacecraft to possess a computer, the 34 kg Argon 11.[1]

The spacecraft was successfully launched into a 354,000 km apogee orbit 180 degrees away from the Moon, It was launched away from the Moon probably to avoid trajectory complications with lunar gravity. However on re-entry the L1's guidance system failed. It hit the atmosphere precisely at the calculated time, but was not guided to generate lift and fly out of the atmosphere again. A ballistic re-entry would mean no recovery on Soviet soil, so the APO destruct system automatically blew up the capsule at 10 to 15 km altitude, 180–200 km off the African coast at Guinea.


  1. ^ Huntress; Marov (2011). Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries. p. 172. 

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