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Solar System Exploration
Luna 1
Luna 1 (click to enlarge)

Luna 1
Date: 3 Jan 1959

Although it missed the moon, Russia's Luna 1 was the first man-made object to escape the grip of Earth's gravity.

It zoomed past the moon at a distance of 6,400 km (3, 977 miles) and eventually became the first spacecraft to go into orbit around our sun (a heliocentric orbit).

Credit: National Space Science Data Center

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Last Updated: 22 Apr 2013