Date: 21 Sep 1968
Russia's Zond 5 -- carrying an extensive biological payload including two steppe tortoises -- was the first successful circumlunar mission. It carried its biological payload around the moon and returned to Earth. The tortoises survived landing in the Indian Ocean and were returned to Moscow.
Zond lunar missions proved a living crew could return safely to Earth from the moon.
Credit: S.P.Korolev RSC Energia