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Luna 15
Luna 15 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: This was the second Soviet attempt to bring lunar soil back to Earth. Since the Soviet Union launched Luna 15 three days before the announced launch date of Apollo 11, it appears likely that the Soviets hoped to return lunar samples to Earth just before the American astronauts could do so. The spacecraft was also said to be capable of collecting information about the lunar environment, analyzing the chemical composition of lunar rocks, and taking pictures of the lunar surface.

Accomplishments: Luna 15 reached lunar orbit and conducted numerous communications sessions with Earth, during which it may have transmitted data about the lunar space environment. But its primary goal ended in failure when contact was lost on the same day that U.S. astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to set foot on the Moon. It is thought that Luna 15 probably crashed into a mountain while descending to the lunar surface.


Key Dates
13 Jul 1969:  Launch
21 Jul 1969:  Lunar Impact
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Luna 15 Facts This was the second Soviet attempt to bring lunar soil back to Earth.

U.S. President Richard Nixon (right) approved use of a special hotline so NASA could ask Soviet scientists for Luna 15's orbital parameters to ensure the unmanned spacecraft didn't endanger Apollo 11's crew.

The Soviets complied.
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Last Updated: 29 Nov 2010