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Luna 8
Luna 8 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Lander
Launch Vehicle: SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage, 8K78 (no. U103-28)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR, NIIP-5 / launch site 3
Spacecraft Mass: 1,552 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system and 2) radiation detector
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/

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


This Soviet attempt to achieve a lunar soft-landing nearly succeeded. After a successful midcourse correction on 4 December, the spacecraft headed toward the Moon without any apparent problems.

Just prior to the planned retro-fire burn, a command was sent to inflate cushioning airbags around the ALS lander probe. Unfortunately, a plastic mounting bracket apparently pierced one of the two bags. The resulting expulsion of air put the spacecraft into a spin of 12 degrees per second. The vehicle momentarily regained attitude, long enough for a 9-second retro-engine firing, but then lost it again.

Without a full retro-fire burn to reduce approach velocity sufficient for a survivable landing, Luna 8 plummeted to the lunar surface and crashed at 21:51:30 UT on 6 December just west of the Kepler crater. Impact coordinates were 9°8' north latitude and 63°18' west longitude.


Key Dates
3 Dec 1965:  Launch
6 Dec 1965:  Lunar Impact
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Luna 8 Facts This was the Soviet Union's fifth attempt to make a survivable landing on the Moon.

A punctured air bag caused the spacecraft to spin and it couldn't slow down enough to make a safe landing.

The Soviet Union launched 10 of the 15 interplanety spacecraft sent into deep space in 1965.
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Last Updated: 29 Nov 2010