Luna programme


Luna programme

The Luna programme (from the Russian word "Luna" meaning "Moon"), occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration. They also performed many experiments, studying the Moon's chemical composition, gravity, temperature, and radiation. Twenty-four spacecraft were formally given the Luna designation, although more were launched. Those which failed to reach orbit were not publicly acknowledged at the time and not assigned a Luna number and ones which failed in low Earth orbit were usually given Cosmos designations [http://www.russianspaceweb.com/spacecraft_planetary_lunar.html] . The estimated cost of Luna Program was about $4.5 billion.

Achievements

Luna 1 missed its intended impact with the Moon and became the first spacecraft to fall into orbit around the Sun.

In 1959, the Luna 2 mission successfully impacted upon the lunar surface, becoming the first man-made object to reach the Moon.

Luna 3 rounded the Moon later that year, and returned the first photographs of its far side, which can never be seen from Earth.

Luna 9 became the first probe to achieve a soft landing on another planetary body (February 1966). It returned five black and white stereoscopic circular panoramas, which were the first close-up shots of the Lunar surface.

Later that year Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon.

Luna 17 and Luna 21 carried roving vehicles which roamed around on the Moon's terrain (see "Lunokhod programme").

Another major achievement of the Luna programme, with Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 spacecrafts, was the ability to collect samples of lunar soil and return them to Earth, by 1970. The program returned 0.326 kg of lunar samples. The Luna missions were the first space-exploration sample return missions to rely solely on advanced robotics.

Other notable missions

Luna 15, also designed to return soil samples from the lunar surface, holds the significance of undergoing its mission at the same time as the historic Apollo 11 mission. Arguably a last-ditch attempt to steal thunder from the potential American success, it would have returned lunar samples to Earth before the Apollo astronauts could do so. Unfortunately, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin were already on the lunar surface when Luna 15 began its descent, and the spacecraft crashed into a mountain minutes later.

Missions

*"Luna 1958A"
**Launch failure September 23, 1958
**Lunar impact attempt
*"Luna 1958B"
**Launch failure October 11, 1958
**Lunar impact attempt
*"Luna 1958C"
**Launch failure December 4, 1958
**Lunar impact attempt
*Luna 1
**Launched January 2, 1959
**Lunar (Impact) Flyby
*"Luna 1959A"
**Launch failure June 18, 1959
**Lunar impact attempt
*Luna 2
**Launched September 12 1959
**Impacted Moon September 14, 1959 at ~07:30:00 UT
**Latitude 29.10 N, Longitude 0.00 - Palus Putredinis
*Luna 3
**Launched October 4, 1959
**Lunar Flyby
*"Luna 1960A"
**Launch failure April 15, 1960
**Lunar flyby attempt
*"Luna 1960B"
**Launch failure April 19, 1960
**Lunar flyby attempt
*"Luna - Sputnik 25"
**Launched January 4, 1963 (failed to escape orbit and decayed back into the atmosphere after just one day)
**Soft landing attempt
*"Luna 1963B"
**Launch failure February 3, 1963
**Soft landing attempt
*Luna 4
**Launched April 2, 1963
**Lunar Flyby (Soft landing attempt)
*"Luna 1964A"
**Launch failure March 21, 1964
**Soft landing attempt
*"Luna 1964B"
**Launch failure April 20, 1964
**Soft landing attempt
*"Luna - Cosmos 60"
**Launched March 12, 1965 (failed to escape orbit and decayed back into the atmosphere after five days)
**Soft landing attempt
*"Luna 1965A"
**Launch failure April 10, 1965
**Soft landing attempt
*Luna 5
**Launched May 9, 1965
**Impacted Moon (soft landing attempt) - Sea of Clouds
*Luna 6
**Launched June 8, 1965
**Attempted Lander - Missed Moon
*Luna 7
**Launched October 4, 1965
**Lunar Impact - Oceanus Procellarum
*Luna 8
**Launched December 3, 1965
**Lunar Impact - Sea of Storms
*Luna 9
**Launched January 31, 1966
**Landed on Moon February 3, 1966 at 18:44:52 UT
**Latitude 7.08 N, Longitude 295.63 E - Oceanus Procellarum
*"Luna - Cosmos 111"
**Launched March 1, 1966 (failed to escape orbit and decayed back into the atmosphere after two days)
**Lunar orbit attempt
*Luna 10
**Launched March 31, 1966
**Lunar Orbiter
*"Luna 1966A"
**Launch failure April 30, 1966
**Lunar Orbiter attempt
*Luna 11
**Launched August 24, 1966
**Lunar Orbiter
*Luna 12
**Launched October 22, 1966
**Lunar Orbiter
*Luna 13
**Launched December 21, 1966
**Landed on Moon December 24, 1966 at 18:01:00 UT
**Latitude 18.87 N, 297.95 E - Oceanus Procellarum
*"Luna 1968A"
**Launch failure February 7, 1968
**Lunar Orbiter attempt
*Luna 14
**Launched April 7, 1968
**Lunar Orbiter
*"Luna 1969A"
**Launch failure February 19, 1969
**Lunar Rover attempt
*"Luna 1969B"
**Launch failure April 15, 1969
**Lunar Sample Return attempt
*"Luna 1969C"
**Launch failure June 14, 1969
**Lunar Sample Return attempt
*Luna 15
**Launched July 13, 1969
**Lunar Orbiter (attempted lander)
*"Luna - Cosmos 300"
**Launched September 23, 1969
**Lunar Sample Return attempt (failed to escape orbit and decayed back into the atmosphere after four days)
*"Luna - Cosmos 305"
**Launched October 22, 1969
**Lunar Sample Return attempt (failed to escape orbit and decayed back into the atmosphere after two days)
*"Luna 1970A"
**Launch failure February 6, 1970
**Lunar Sample Return attempt
*"Luna 1970B"
**Launch failure February 19, 1970
**Lunar Orbiter attempt
*Luna 16
**Launched September 12, 1970
**Landed on Moon September 20, 1970 at 05:18:00 UT
**Latitude 0.68 S, Longitude 56.30 E - Mare Fecunditatis
**Lunar Sample Return to Earth September 24, 1970
*Luna 17/Lunokhod 1
**Launched November 10, 1970
**Landed on Moon November 17, 1970 at 03:47:00 UT
**Latitude 38.28 N, Longitude 325.00 E - Mare Imbrium
**Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 1
*Luna 18
**Launched September 2, 1971
**Lunar Impact (Lunar Sample Return attempt)
**Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 50.50 E - Mare Fecunditatis
*Luna 19
**Launched September 28, 1971
**Lunar Orbiter
*Luna 20
**Launched February 14, 1972
**Landed on Moon February 21, 1972 at 19:19:00 UT
**Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 56.50 E - Mare Fecunditatis
**Lunar Sample Return to Earth February 25, 1972
*Luna 21/Lunokhod 2
**Launched January 8, 1973
**Landed on Moon January 15, 1973 at 23:35:00 UT
**Latitude 25.85 N, Longitude 30.45 E - LeMonnier Crater
**Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 2
*Luna 22
**Launched May 29, 1974
**Lunar Orbiter
*Luna 23
**Launched October 28, 1974
**Lunar Lander (Lunar Sample Return attempt) - Mare Crisium
*"Luna 1975A"
**Launch failure October 16, 1975
**Lunar Sample Return attempt - Mare Crisium
*Luna 24
**Launched August 9, 1976
**Landed on Moon August 18, 1976 at 02:00:00 UT
**Latitude 12.25 N, Longitude 62.20 E - Mare Crisium
**Lunar Sample Return- Mare Crisium

See also

* Luna 8K72
* Soviet space program

External links

* [http://selena.sai.msu.ru/Home/moone.htm Lunar and Planetary Department Moscow University]
* [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?MCode=Luna Luna Series (USSR) Profile] by [http://solarsystem.nasa.gov NASA's Solar System Exploration]
* [http://www.mentallandscape.com/C_CatalogMoon.htm Soviet Lunar Images]
* [http://www.lpi.usra.edu/expmoon/luna/luna.html Exploring the Moon: Luna Missions]


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