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Luna 7
Luna 7 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Lander
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage, 8K78 (no. U103-27)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR, NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Spacecraft Mass: 1,506 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.


Unlike its predecessors, Luna 7 successfully carried out its midcourse correction on 5 October on the way to the Moon, in anticipation of a soft landing two days later. Unfortunately, immediately prior to planned retro-fire during the approach to the lunar surface, the spacecraft suddenly lost attitude control and failed to regain it.

Automatic programmed systems then prevented the main engine from firing. As controllers observed helplessly, Luna 7 plummeted to the lunar surface at a very high speed, crashing at 22:08:24 UT on 7 October west of the Kepler crater, relatively near the actual intended target. Impact coordinates were 9° north latitude and 49° west longitude.

Later investigation indicated that the optical sensor of the astronavigation system had been set at the wrong angle and had lost sight of Earth during the critical attitude-control maneuver. It was the tenth consecutive failure in the Ye-6 program.


Key Dates
4 Oct 1965:  Launch
7 Oct 1965:  Lunar Impact
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Luna 7 Facts This was the Soviet Union's fourth attempt to make a survivable landing on the Moon.

A malfunction prevented the main engine from firing at a crucial point and the spacecraft hit the Moon at high speed.

The Soviet Union launched 10 of the 15 interplanety spacecraft sent into deep space in 1965.
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Last Updated: 24 Jan 2011