Fast Facts: Unnamed Mars Mission 2MV-3 (No. 1)

An engine time malfunction left this Mars-bound Soviet mission stranded in low Earth orbit. It burned up in Earth's atmosphere a day after launch. This mission was not acknowledged at the time by the Soviet Union. Historians have identified it as an early Soviet effort to explore Mars.

Nation Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR)
Objective(s) Mars Impact
Spacecraft 2MV-3 (No. 1)
Mission Design and Management OKB-1
Spacecraft Mass Unknown
Launch Vehicle Molniya + Blok L (8K78 no. T103-17)
Launch Date and Time Nov. 4, 1962 / 15:35:14 UT
Launch Site NIIP-5 / Site 1/5
Scientific Instruments Spacecraft Bus
1. Magnetometer
2. Scintillation Counter
3. Gas Discharge Geiger Counters
4. Cherenkov Detector
5. Ion Traps
6. Cosmic Wave Detector
7. Micrometeoroid Detector

Impact Probe
1. Temperature, Pressure, and Density Sensors
2. Chemical Gas Analyzer
3. Gamma-Ray Detector
4. Mercury Level Movement Detector

Results

This was the third and last of the Soviet second generation Mars attempts in 1962 and also the only impact lander in the series.

During the trans-Mars injection firing of the Blok L upper stage, the main engine (the S1.5400A1) prematurely shut down after 33 seconds due to a malfunction in the programmed timer for the stage.

The problem was later traced to excessive vibrations of the second stage during liftoff. These vibrations also jarred loose a pyrotechnic igniter from its support, preventing the Blok L from firing.

The spacecraft remained stranded in Earth orbit and reentered the atmosphere on Nov. 5, 1962. The probe had been intended to fly by Mars on June 21, 1963.

Source

Siddiqi, Asif A. Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958-2016. NASA History Program Office, 2018.

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