Launch Date June 14, 1969:
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia | Launch Site 81P
Destination Earth’s Moon
Type Lander, Sample Return
Status Unsuccessful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names

Goals

Land on the Moon, collect samples and return them to Earth.

Accomplishments

None. A booster rocket malfunction caused the spacecraft to fall back to Earth without reaching orbit.

Key Dates

June 14, 1969: Launch

In Depth

The Ye-8-5 was a variant of the basic Ye-8 lunar-rover spacecraft developed by the Lavochkin design bureau. This particular version, whose development began in 1968, was designed to recover a small portion of soil from the lunar surface and return it to Earth.

It had the same basic lander stage ("KT") as that of the rover variant (built around a structure comprising four spherical propellant tanks linked together in a square), which was installed with a robot arm to scoop up lunar soil. The rover was replaced by a new "ascent stage" that was built around three spherical propellant tanks that consisted of a main rocket engine to lift off from the Moon, a pressurized compartment for electronics, and a small, 39-kilogram spherical capsule that would detach from the stage and re-enter Earth's atmosphere with its valuable payload of lunar dust.

On the first launch attempt of the Ye-8-5 robot scooper, the first three stages of the Proton worked without fault, but the Blok D fourth stage, which was to fire to attain orbital velocity, failed to ignite due to a disruption in the circuit of its guidance system. The spacecraft reentered Earth's atmosphere over the Pacific without reaching orbit.

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle:

Spacecraft Mass: about 5700 kg

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. stereo imaging system
  2. remote arm for sample collection
  3. radiation detector

Selected References

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

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