Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: 8K72 (no. B1-6)
Launch Site: NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: 361.3 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
National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/
Although this Soviet spacecraft was the first human-made object to reach escape
velocity, its trajectory was less than accurate due to a problem in the guidance
system, and the probe missed its main target, the Moon.
The spacecraft (which, with its launch vehicle, was referred to as Cosmic Rocket in the Soviet press) eventually passed by the Moon at a distance of 6,400 kilometers about 34 hours following launch.
Before the flyby, at 00:57 UT on 3 January 1959, the attached upper stage released one kilogram of natrium at a distance of 113,000 kilometers from Earth and was photographed by astronomers on Earth.
Ground controllers lost contact with Cosmic Rocket (retroactively named Luna 1 in
1963) approximately 62 hours after launch. The probe became the first spacecraft to enter orbit around the Sun.