Goals: Launched 2 weeks after NASA's Lunar Orbiter 1, Luna 11 was designed to take the Soviet Union's first pictures of the surface of the Moon from lunar orbit and to obtain data on the Moon's composition, the mass concentrations first detected by Luna 10, and the lunar environment.

Accomplishments: The TV system failed to return usable images, but the other instruments functioned properly. The spacecraft completed 137 radio transmissions and 277 orbits of the Moon before its batteries were depleted.

24 Aug 1966: Launch
27 Aug 1966: Lunar Orbit Insertion


Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: SS-6 (Sapwood) with second-generation upper stage + escape stage; 8K78M (no. N103-43)
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), USSR, NIIP-5
Spacecraft Mass: 1,640 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) gamma-ray detector; 3) magnetometer; 4) radiation detectors; 5) infrared radiometer; 6) meteoroid detectors; and 7) R-1 gear transmission experiment
Spacecraft Power: Batteries
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.


This subset of the "second-generation" Luna spacecraft, the Ye-6LF, was designed to take the U.S.S.R.'s first photographs of the surface of the Moon from lunar orbit. A secondary objective was to obtain data on mass concentrations ("mascons") on the Moon first detected by Luna 10.

Using the basic Ye-6 bus, a suite of scientific instruments (plus an imaging system similar to the one used on Zond 3) replaced the small lander capsule used on the soft-landing flights. The resolution of the photos was reportedly 15 to 20 meters. A technological experiment included testing the efficiency of gear transmission in vacuum as a test for a future lunar rover.

Luna 11, launched only two weeks after the U.S. Lunar Orbiter, successfully entered lunar orbit at 21:49 UT on 27 August. Parameters were 160 x 1,193 kilometers. During the mission, the TV camera failed to return usable images because the spacecraft lost proper orientation to face the lunar surface when a foreign object was lodged in the nozzle of one of the attitude-control thrusters. The other instruments functioned without fault before the mission formally ended on 1 October 1966 after the power supply had been depleted.

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