Launch Date September 1, 1962
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia | Launch Site 1
Destination Venus
Type Impact
Status Unsuccessful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names Sputnik 20, 1962 Alpha Tau 1, Sputnik 24 (USNSC), 00381, 1962-043A


Travel through Venus’ atmosphere and study the planet en route to a surface impact.


None. A malfunction stranded the spacecraft in Earth orbit and it burned up in the atmosphere about five days after launch.

Key Dates

Sept. 1, 1962: Launch

In Depth

This was the second of three Venus spacecraft launched by the Soviets in 1962.

Like its predecessor launched in August 1962 (also a Venus impact probe), the spacecraft never left parking orbit around Earth because of a malfunction in the Blok L upper stage designed to send the probe out of Earth orbit toward Venus.

Evidently, the valve that controlled the delivery of fuel into the combustion chamber of the Blok L engine (the S1.5400) never opened. As a result, the engine never fired. The payload decayed within five days of launch.


Launch Vehicle: 8K78 (no. T103-13)

Spacecraft Mass: c. 1,100 kg

Spacecraft Instruments:


Additional Resources

NSSDC Master Catalog: Sputnik 20

Selected References

Siddiqi, Asif A. Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, NASA, 2002.

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