Mission Type: Lander
Launch Vehicle: 8K78 (no. T103-09)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R., NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: 1,420 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system and 2) radiation detector
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/
This spacecraft was the first "second-generation" Soviet lunar probe (known as Ye-6). These were designed to accomplish a survivable landing on the surface of the Moon.
The Ye-6 probes were equipped with simple lander capsules (called the ALS) whose primary objective was to send back photographs from the lunar surface. Each egg-shaped ALS was installed on a roughly cylindrical-shaped main bus.
Like the Mars and Venera deep space probes, the Ye-6 Luna spacecraft were also launched by the four-stage 8K78 (Molniya) booster but modified for lunar missions.
Like many of its deep space predecessors, this first Luna probe failed to escape Earth orbit because of a failure in the Blok L translunar injection stage. There was apparently a failure in the inverter in the power system of the I-100 guidance system (which controlled both the Blok L and the spacecraft), which failed to issue a command to fire the Blok L engine. The spacecraft remained in Earth orbit, unacknowledged by the Soviets.