The Lunik probes

The Soviet Union might have appeared inactive during these American launch attempts, but there was a lot going on in secret. The State Commission had approved a series of Moon probes in March 1958, but with little compromise on the size and

THE DAWN OF THE SPACE AGE

CARGO TO THE MOON

Both Luna 1 and Luna 2 carried a payload of small symbolic objects onboard, including "footballs" of pentagonal pennants designed to explode on impact and scatter their emblems over a wide area.

ROUTES TO THE MOON

While the first two Luna probes mode a simple fly by and a crashlanding, Luna 3's orbit swung it in a figure of 8 around the Moon and back towards Earth. It probably re-entered the atmosphere in March 1960.

LUNA 2

Launch Vehicle

R-7 8K72 Mass 390.2kg (854.41b)

Diameter

0.9 m (3 ft) Achievements

Became the first man-made object to reach the Moon

LUNA 3

Launch Vehicle

R-7 8K72 Mass 278.5kg (612.71b) Diameter 1.2m (4ft) Added features Solar cells Achievements Photographed the far side of the Moon (not visible from the Earth)

LUNA 1

Launch Vehicle

R-7 8K72

Mass 361kg (795.81b) Diameter 0.9m (3 ft) Achievements Failed to impact with the Moon but became the first spacecraft to fall into orbit around the Sun

17 August 1958

An unnamed US Air Force space probe intended to orbit the Moon is destroyed within two minutes of launch.

11 October 1958

Pioneer 1 fails to escape Earth orbit en route to the Moon.

2 January 1959

The Soviet Union launches Luna 1, also known as Mechta. It misses the Moon but becomes the first artificial object to leave Earth orbit.

3 March 1959

Following three launch failures, Pioneer 4 escapes Earth orbit but misses its flyby of the Moon by 60,000km (36,000 miles) and does not return any data.

12 September 1959

Luna 2 is launched.

14 September 1959

Luna 2 crashes successfully into the Moon.

4 October 1959

Luna 3 is launched.

7 October 1959

Luna 3 travels behind the Moon and returns the first images of the lunar far side.

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