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Solar System Exploration
Venera 3
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Venera 3
Venera 3 Mission to Venus

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage; 8K78M
Launch Site: Tyturam, Baikonur Cosmodrome, USSR; NIIP-5 / launch site 31
Spacecraft Mass: 958 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) radiation detector
Remaining instruments are unknown
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi

This was the second of three 3MV spacecraft the Soviets attempted to launch toward Venus in late 1965. Venera 3 successfully left Earth orbit and released a small 0.9- meter-diameter, 337-kilogram (some sources say 310-kilogram) landing capsule to explore the Venusian atmosphere and transmit data on pressure, temperature, and composition of the Venusian atmosphere back to Earth during the descent by parachute.

During the outbound trajectory, ground controllers successfully performed a midcourse correction on 26 December 1965 and completed 93 communications sessions. However, contact was lost on 16 February 1966, shortly before the Venusian encounter, although the spacecraft automatically released its sterilized lander probe, which landed inertly on the Venusian surface at 06:56 UT on 1 March 1966.

It was the first time a man-made object had made physical contact with another planetary body besides the Moon. Later investigation confirmed that Venera 3 suffered many of the same failures as Venera 2, such as overheating of internal components and the solar panels.

Key Dates
16 Nov 1965:  Launch
1 Mar 1966:  Venus Impact
Status: Partial Success
Fast Facts
Venera 3 Facts Venus was the second place beyond Earth touched by a man-made object. We made an impact on our own Moon first.

The Soviet Union celebrated the accomplishment with a special stamp (right).

An investigation found the spacecraft shared several of the same problems as Venera 2 and overheating most likely caused it to fail to return science data.
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Last Updated: 9 Feb 2012