Launch Date Aug. 7, 1969
Launch Site Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, Russia |
Launch Site 81L
Destination Earth’s Moon
Type Flyby (Circumlunar)
Status Successful
Nation Soviet Union
Alternate Names 1969-067A, 04062


This was at least the seventh Soviet effort to send an unmanned spacecraft around the Moon and back to Earth.


Zond 7 was the first fully successful Soviet mission to fly a spacecraft around the Moon and return it to Earth. Though no humans were aboard, it carried a number of animals and other living things, including four steppe tortoises. It transmitted color pictures of both Earth and the Moon, and achieved a soft landing in Kazakhstan.

Key Dates

Aug. 7, 1969: Launch
Aug. 14, 1969: Returned and Landed on Earth

In Depth

Following a spate of partial successes and catastrophic failures, Zond 7 was the first fully successful Soviet circumlunar mission. The spacecraft had been the last 7K-L1 vehicle manufactured for robotic flight. In the original schedule, the next flight would have been piloted. Like its predecessors, Zond 7 carried a set of biological specimens, including four male steppe tortoises that were part of a group of thirty selected for an experiment.

After a midcourse correction on 8 August, the spacecraft successfully circled the far side of the Moon two days later at a range of 1,200 kilometers. Zond 7 performed color imaging sessions on 8 August (of Earth) and 11 August (two sessions of both Earth and the Moon).

The only major malfunction during the mission was the failure to deploy the main parabolic antenna (due to a problem in the securing cables), but this did not prevent fulfillment of all the primary goals of the mission. Zond 7 successfully carried out a guided reentry over Earth's atmosphere and landed without problem south of Kustanay in Kazakhstan after a flight lasting 6 days, 18 hours, 25 minutes.


Launch Vehicle: Proton booster plus upper stage and escape stages, 8K82K + Blok D (Proton no. 243-01)

Spacecraft Mass: about 5375 kg

Spacecraft Instruments:

  1. biological payload
  2. radiation detectors
  3. imaging system

Additional Resources

NSSDC Master Catalog: Zond 7

NSSDC Soviet Lunar Missions

Selected References

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

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