Launch Date September 23, 1958
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia | Launch Site 1
Destination Earth's Moon
Type Impact
Status Unsuccessful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names Unnamed Luna


This was the Soviet Union's first effort to break out of Earth orbit and explore the moon. The spacecraft was to study radiation in interplanetary space and then crash into the Moon.


None. Vibrations caused the rocket to disintegrate 93 seconds after launch.

In Depth

The Soviet government approved a modest plan for initial exploration of the moon in March 1958. Engineers conceived of four initial probes, the Ye-1 (for lunar impact), Ye-2 (to photograph the far side of the moon), Ye-3 (to photograph the far side of the Moon), and Ye-4 (for lunar impact with a nuclear explosion).

The Ye-1 was a simple probe, a pressurized spherical object made from aluminum-magnesium alloy, approximately the size of the first Sputnik, that carried five scientific instruments. The goals of the mission were to study the gas component of interplanetary matter (using the proton traps), meteoric particles and photons in cosmic radiation (using the piezoelectric detectors), the magnetic fields of the moon and Earth (using the magnetometer), variations in cosmic ray intensity, and heavy nuclei in primary cosmic radiation. The probe (on its upper stage) also carried one kilogram of natrium to create an artificial comet on the outbound trajectory that could be photographed from Earth.

During the first Ye-1 launch, the booster developed longitudinal resonant vibrations on the strap-on boosters of the launch vehicle. The rocket eventually disintegrated at T+93 seconds destroying its payload.


Launch Vehicle: 8K72 (no. B1-5)

Spacecraft Mass: About 794 pounds (360 kilograms) with upper stage

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. three-component magnetometer
  2. two gas-discharge counters
  3. piezoelectric detector
  4. scintillation counter
  5. ion traps

Selected References

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

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