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Ye-1/1 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: 8K72 (no. B1-5)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: c. 360 kg (with upper stage)
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) three-component magnetometer; 2) two gas-discharge counters; 3) piezoelectric detector; 4) scintillation counter and 5) ion traps
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

The Soviet government approved a modest plan for initial exploration of the Moon in March 1958. Engineers conceived of four initial probes, the Ye-1 (for lunar impact), Ye-2 (to photograph the far side of the Moon), Ye-3 (to photograph the far side of the Moon), and Ye-4 (for lunar impact with a nuclear explosion).

The Ye-1 was a simple probe, a pressurized spherical object made from aluminum-magnesium alloy, approximately the size of the first Sputnik, that carried five scientific instruments. The goals of the mission were to study the gas component of interplanetary matter (using the proton traps), meteoric particles and photons in cosmic radiation (using the piezoelectric detectors), the magnetic fields of the Moon and Earth (using the magnetometer), variations in cosmic ray intensity, and heavy nuclei in primary cosmic radiation. The probe (on its upper stage) also carried one kilogram of natrium to create an artificial comet on the outbound trajectory that could be photographed from Earth.

During the first Ye-1 launch, the booster developed longitudinal resonant vibrations on the strap-on boosters of the launch vehicle. The rocket eventually disintegrated at T+93 seconds destroying its payload.

Key Dates
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Ye-1/1 Facts The spacecraft carried natrium to create an artificial comet that could be photographed from Earth.

This was the Soviet Union's first attempt to send a probe into interplanetary space.
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Last Updated: 2 Dec 2010