Mission Type: Flyby
Launch Vehicle: Proton booster plus upper stage and escape stages, 8K82K + Blok D (Proton no. 243-01)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR, NIIP-5 / launch site 81L
Spacecraft Mass: about 5375 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) biological payload; 2) radiation detectors and 3) imaging system
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.
Following a spate of partial successes and catastrophic failures, Zond 7 was the first fully successful Soviet circumlunar mission. The spacecraft had been the last 7K-L1 vehicle manufactured for robotic flight. In the original schedule, the next flight would have been piloted. Like its predecessors, Zond 7 carried a set of biological specimens, including four male steppe tortoises that were part of a group of thirty selected for an experiment.
After a midcourse correction on 8 August, the spacecraft successfully circled the far side of the Moon two days later at a range of 1,200 kilometers. Zond 7 performed color imaging sessions on 8 August (of Earth) and 11 August (two sessions of both Earth and the Moon).
The only major malfunction during the mission was the failure to deploy the main parabolic antenna (due to a problem in the securing cables), but this did not prevent fulfillment of all the primary goals of the mission. Zond 7 successfully carried out a guided reentry over Earth's atmosphere and landed without problem south of Kustanay in Kazakhstan after a flight lasting 6 days, 18 hours, 25 minutes.