Launch Date June 8, 1965 | 7:41 UT
Launch Site Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR, NIIP-5 / launch site 1
Destination Earth's Moon
Type Lander
Status Partial Success
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names Ye-6 (no. 7), Lunik 6, 01393, automatic interplanetary station


Like Luna 4 and 5, this was a Soviet attempt at a soft lunar landing.


An error sent the spacecraft on the wrong trajectory, causing it to miss the Moon by 161,000 km. But mission controllers put Luna 6 through all the motions of an actual landing, jettisoning the lander and deploying the airbags as a practice run for an actual lunar landing.

Key Dates

June 8, 1965 | 7:41 UT: Launch

June 9, 1965: Midcourse correction and engine fails to cut off

June 11, 1965: Lunar Flyby

In Depth

Similar to the Luna 5 design, the Luna 6 spacecraft carried an imaging system and a radiation detector. On this Soviet attempt at a lunar soft-landing, the mission proceeded as planned at first. During the mid-course correction on June 9 the main retro-rocket engine (the S5.5A) ignited on time, but failed to cut off as scheduled and fired until all of its propellant was exhausted. This put the spacecraft on a trajectory to miss the Moon.

Although the spacecraft was sent on a completely wrong trajectory, ground controllers put the spacecraft through all the motions of an actual landing, jettisoning the lander and deploying the airbags, as an apparently successful practice run for the ground crew.

Luna 6 passed about 100,000 miles (about 161,000 kilometers) from the Moon late on June 11. Ground controllers maintained contact with the spacecraft until it was about 373,000 miles (about 600,000 kilometers) from Earth, after which the spacecraft presumably entered a heliocentric orbit.


Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage, 8K78M (no. U103-31)

Spacecraft Mass: 3179.066 pounds (1,442 kilograms)

Spacecraft Instruments

  1. Imaging system

  2. Radiation detector

Additional Resources

National Space Science Data Center Master Catalogue: Luna 6

National Space Science Data Center: Soviet Lunar Missions

Selected References

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

Lunik 5 and 6, TRW Space Log, TRW Systems, 5, No. 2, 55, Redondo Beach, Calif., 1965.

Shelton, W., Soviet space exploration - the first decade, Arthur Barker Ltd., Unnumbered, London, England, 1969.

Johnson, N. L., Handbook of soviet lunar and planetary exploration - volume 47 science and technology series, Amer. Astronau. Soc. Publ., 1979

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