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Luna 2
Luna 2 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: 8K72 (no. I1-7b)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: 390.2 kg (with upper stage)
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) three-component magnetometer; 2) six gas-discharge counters; 3) piezoelectric detector; 4) scintillation counter and 5) ion traps
References:
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/


After an aborted launch on 9 September, the Ye-1A probe successfully lifted off and reached escape velocity three days later. Officially named the Second Soviet Cosmic Rocket, the spacecraft released its one kilogram of natrium on 12 September at a distance of 156,000 kilometers from Earth in a cloud that expanded out to 650 kilometers in diameter and was clearly visible from the ground.

Fortunately, this sixth attempt at lunar impact was much more accurate than its predecessors. The spacecraft successfully reached the surface of the Moon at 23:02:23 UT on 14 September 1959, thus becoming the first object of human
origin to make contact with another celestial body. The probes impact point was approximately at 30 degrees north latitude and 0 degrees longitude on the slope of the Autolycus crater, east of Mare Serenitatis.

Luna 2 (as it was called after 1963) deposited Soviet emblems on the
lunar surface carried in 9 x 15-centimeter metallic spheres. The spacecrafts magnetometer measured no significant lunar magnetic field as close as 55 kilometers to the lunar surface. The radiation detectors also found no hint of a radiation belt.


Key Dates
12 Sep 1959:  Launch (06:39:42 UT)
14 Sep 1959:  Lunar Impact (23:02:23 UT)
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Luna 2 Facts Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon.

It scattered Soviet emblems (right) on impact.

The spacecraft also released sodium gas so it could be tracked from Earth.
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Last Updated: 29 Nov 2010