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Luna 9
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Luna 9
Luna 9 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Lander
Launch Vehicle: 8K78M (no. U103-32), : Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd-generation upper stage + escape stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R, NIIP-5 / launch site 31
Spacecraft Mass: 1538 kg at launch; surface capsule: 99.0 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) SBM-10 radiation detector
Spacecraft Dimensions: 2.7 meters; surface capsule: 58-cm-diameter sphere
Spacecraft Power: Battery
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,

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.

With this mission, the Soviets accomplished another spectacular first in the space race, the first survivable landing of a human-made object on another celestial body. Luna 9 was the twelfth attempt at a soft-landing by the Soviets; it was also the first deep-space probe built by the Lavochkin design bureau, which ultimately would design and build almost all Soviet (and Russian) lunar and interplanetary spacecraft.

All operations prior to landing occurred without fault, and the 58-centimeter spheroid ALS capsule landed on the Moon at 18:45:30 UT on 3 February 1966 west of the Reiner and Marius craters in the Ocean of Storms (at 7°8' north latitude and 64°22' west longitude).

Approximately 5 minutes after touchdown, Luna 9 began transmitting data to Earth, but it was 7 hours (after the Sun climbed to 7° elevation) before the probe began sending the first of nine images (including five panoramas) of the surface of the Moon. These were the first images sent from the surface of another planetary body. The radiation detector, the only scientific instrument on board, measured a dosage of 30 millirads per day.

Perhaps the most important discovery of the mission was determining that a foreign object would not simply sink into the lunar dust, that is, that the ground could support a heavy lander. Last contact with the spacecraft was at 22:55 UT on 6 February 1966.

Key Dates
31 Jan 1966:  Launch (11:41:37)
3 Feb 1966:  Lunar Landing
4 Feb 1966:  First pictures transmitted from lunar surface
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Luna 9 made the first survivable landing on the Moon.

The spacecraft was the first to send back images from the surface of another world.

England scooped the Soviets by intercepting the radio signals carrying the first photo data and releasing a picture before the USSR produced its official version.
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Last Updated: 29 Nov 2010