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2MV-4/1 Mission to Mars

Mission Type: Flyby
Launch Vehicle: 8K78 (no. T103-15)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R., NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: c. 900 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system and 2) magnetometer
-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,

This was the first of three "second generation" interplanetary probes (two flyby probes and one impact probe), designed to reach Mars, prepared by the Soviets for the late-1962 launch window.

Because of the repeated failures of the Blok L upper stage during deep space missions, engineers elected to outfit the stage for the Mars missions with supplementary control and measurement equipment. As a result, most of the scientific instruments were removed from the Mars spacecraft. The three missions were primarily technological test flights rather than scientific missions.

In this case, the Blok L interplanetary stage failed again. Just 17 seconds after trans-Mars injection ignition, the main engine (the S1.5400A1) turbopump exploded, destroying the payload. The problem was traced to leaking lubricant. As many as 24 fragments were later tracked, the largest of which reentered Earth's atmosphere on 29 October 1962. The original probe was designed to fly by Mars on 17 June 1963.

Key Dates
24 Oct 1962:  Launch
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
2MV-4/1 Facts Launched during the Cuban Missile Crisis, debris from this spacecraft re-entering Earth's atmosphere were momentarily feared to be a nuclear attack.

Up to 24 pieces of the spacecraft were tracked in orbit before they fell back to Earth.

The Soviet Union often did not name failed missions or renamed them to indicate they were intended to orbit the Earth instead of going to another planet.
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Last Updated: 6 Oct 2010