Launch Date July 18, 1965
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia | Launch Site 1
Destination Earth’s Moon
Type Flyby
Status Successful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names 1965-056A, 01454

Goals

This Zond spacecraft was originally slated for a trip to Mars, but when it couldn't be prepared in time Soviet scientists instead made it a lunar mission to test basic systems and send back more photographs of the far side of the Moon.

Accomplishments

Zond 3 photographed the unseen 30 percent of the far side of the Moon. It also demonstrated successful course correction using both solar and stellar orientation, a first for a Soviet spacecraft.

Key Dates

July 18, 1965: Launch
July 20, 1965: Lunar Flyby

In Depth

This third-generation deep space probe had originally been slated for a Mars flyby in late 1964 but could not be prepared on time. Instead, Soviet designers diverted the mission for a simple lunar flyby in 1965 to test its basic systems and photograph the far side of the Moon.

After a successful translunar injection burn, Zond 3 approached the Moon after only a 33-hour flight. Its imaging mission began on 20 July at a range of 11,570 kilometers from the near side of the Moon.

The camera system used a similar system to that of Luna 3, with onboard exposure, development, fixing, and drying prior to scanning for transmission to Earth. In total, the spacecraft took twenty-five visual and three ultraviolet images during its flyby. The closest approach was to 9,220 kilometers. These pictures were successfully transmitted back to Earth on 29 July, nine days after Zond 3's lunar encounter, when it was 2.2 million kilometers from Earth.

Further communications sessions occurred on 23 October (involving photo transmissions) when Zond 3 was 31.5 million kilometers from Earth. The last contact was sometime in early March 1966, when the spacecraft was 153.5 million kilometers away.

During the mission, it had photographed the unseen 30 percent of the far side of the Moon. Zond 3 also demonstrated successful course correction using both solar and stellar orientation, a first for a Soviet spacecraft.

Spacecraft

Launch Vehicle:

Spacecraft Mass: 950 kg

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. imaging system
  2. ultraviolet spectrograph
  3. ultraviolet and infrared spectrophotometer
  4. meteoroid detectors
  5. radiation sensors (cosmic rays, solar wind)

Additional Resources

NSSDC Master Catalog: Zond 3

Selected References

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

Solar System News