55 лет успешным полетам к Луне космических аппаратов «Луна-2», «Луна-3»

The editorial board of the Korolev's Planet website continues to publish materials dedicated to lunar exploration.

55 years ago the USSR launched interplanetary probes Luna-2 and Luna-3, which enables significant advances in lunar studies. We bring to your attention an editorial on INTERPLANETARY PROBES LUNA-2 AND LUNA-3


INTERPLANETARY PROBES LUNA-2 AND LUNA-3


55 years ago the USSR launched interplanetary probes Luna-2 and Luna-3, which enables significant advances in lunar studies.

Luna-2
On September 14, 1959 at 24 hours 02 minutes 24 seconds Moscow Time, a Soviet interplanetary robotic spacecraft Luna-2 scored the world's first by reaching the lunar surface in the area of Mare Imbrium in the vicinity of craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. For the first time in history a spaceflight from Earth to another heavenly body was accomplished. The probe was built at Korolev's Special Design Bureau 1. Its mass was 390.2 kg. The diameter of its spherical body was a little more than 1 meter.


The probe was launched on September 12, 1959 from the Baikonur launch site on the launch vehicle (LV) Vostok-L belonging to the R-7 family of rockets. In order to make it possible for the spacecraft to reach the Moon (at Earth escape velocity), the launch vehicle had to be modified. The LV was outfitted with a third stage – Block E with the engine RD-0105, developed at the Design Bureau for Chemical Automatic Equipment (OKB-154).

Luna-2 carried scientific equipment – scintillation counters, Geiger counters, magnitometers, micrometeorite detectors.
It studied magnetic fields of the Earth and the Moon; radiation belts around Earth; cosmic radiation intensity and variations of intensity; heavy nuclei in cosmic radiation; gas component of the interplanetary matter; meteoric particles.


It confirmed the data obtained by Luna-1 that the Moon has no significant magnetic field and it has no radiation belts around it. As the probe approached the lunar surface, it was discovered that there was some increase in the concentration of the gaseous component as compared with the interplanetary space.
One of the important scientific achievements of the mission was direct measurement of the solar wind.
The probe trajectory was designed for direct impact with the Moon.

Траектория полёта «Луны-2» к Луне

Luna-2 flight path to the Moon.
The figure shows the position of the Moon at the moment of the lift-off (1), and the travel of the Moon over the spacecraft transit time (1 → 2)


The geocentric portion of the Luna-2 orbit was hyperbolic, and it was for the first time that the escape velocity was exceeded. The spacecraft hand no propulsion system of its own, therefore there were no orbital corrections and no braking maneuvers on approaching the Moon. During the acceleration phase, as long as the control systems of the three rocket stages were in operation, over a period of 12 minutes the subsequent flight path was gradually established so as to hit the center of the visible side of the Moon, which is a disc with a diameter of only 3476 km.

• An error in determining the rocket velocity at the moment of engine cutoff of only one meter per second, that is 0.01% of the total velocity, results in offsetting the point of impact with the Moon by 250 km.
• Deviation of the velocity vector from nominal direction by one angular minute will result in offsetting the impact point by 200 km.
• Shifting the lift-off time by ten seconds results in offsetting the lunar impact point by 200 km.

Understandably, achieving such accuracy of rocket control was quite a challenge. However, it was achieved at the level of accuracy that astounded the whole world.
The interplanetary probe Luna-2 impacted with the lunar surface on September 14, 1959 in the area with the selenographic coordinates: 29.1°N, 0°E:

Луна

Место падения станции Луна-2The probe literally smashed into the Moon at 3.3 km/s and burst into pieces. The specialists estimated that Luna-2 explosion must have created a crater with a diameter of 15 to 130 meters.


The moment of impact with the Moon was recorded by observatories both at home and abroad, there was even a picture taken of the rising dust cloud, and there was loss of the radio link.


Luna-2 carried two so-called 'pennants' with the image of the State Emblem of the Soviet Union.


The 'pennants' were spheres composed of small pentagonal metal plates with inscriptions "USSR" and "USSR September 1959", one of the pennants had a diameter of about 100 mm, the other of about 150 mm.

 

 

 

 

 

Вымпелы с изображением Герба СССР

'Pennants' with the State Emblem of the USSR


Future cosmonauts will be able to find the fragments of the artificial space objects, which for the first time reached our natural satellite in the mid-twentieth century. The pentagonal pieces were stamped out of stainless steel on special order. They began stamping these historic pentagons at the Mint as early as 1958. The Mint had to do it five times – to reflect each new launch date after every previous failure.


The flight of Lunar-2 had a significant political impact. The Soviet leader N.S. Khrushchev during his first visit to the United States in September 1959 presented to President Eisenhower a replica of this 'pennant' as a gift. Below are excerpts from the book by B.Y. Chertok Rockets and People – Moscow, Mashinostroyeniye Publishers, 1999:


"The President thoughtfully considered the heavy lunar ball, celebrated in thousands of newspapers, in the palm of his hand. A sunbeam sparkled brightly on its polished facets. The President expressed his deep gratitude to the Soviet government and said that he would hand over the replica of the pennant to the museum in his home town of Abilene, Kansas, so that the people could see it." This is how our correspondents accompanying Khrushchev described this historic event.


Several hours before the solemn ceremony, the White House received a report that a Jupiter rocket that was to carry experiments into space had failed to lift off.
Three hours later an attempt was made to launch [another US] rocket Vanguard [with a satellite]. It also failed.
When we learned about these events, we were not gleeful..."


The head of the US space program, the former chief designer of the German V-2 rocket Wernher von Braun appraised the launch of Luna-2 in the following terms:
"Russia has far outstripped the United States in space and no money in the world can buy you the lost time...".

55 luna 06

The successful launch of Luna-2 was preceded by four launch failures and one partially successful mission (Luna-1). In other words, we managed to hit the Moon only in the sixth attempt. It took even longer for the Americans to make it. The data on lunar exploration with the use of unmanned spacecraft 1958-1966 are listed in the Table. It can be seen that the Moon was reluctant to reveal its secrets (the failures are highlighted in red). The Soviet researchers were in the lead in this arduous undertaking. Highlighted in blue in the Table are the 'firsts', and all of them were scored by the USSR.

Name

Launch date

Mission objectives and results

(Pioneer)
(USA)

17.08.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failure: Launch vehicle (LV) explosion 77 seconds after lift-off

(Luna)
(USSR)

23.09.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failure: LV destroyed 93 seconds after the lift-off due to  vibration of strap-on boosters

(Luna)
(USSR)

11.10.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failure: LV destroyed 104 seconds after the lift-off due to  vibration of strap-on boosters

(Pioneer-1)
(USA)

11.10.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. The third stage of the LV failed to achieve full thrust, the spacecraft did not reach the Moon. The maximum distance from the Earth was more than 100 thousand km. The study of radiation belts, Earth magnetic field, first measurements of micrometeoroid density.

(Pioneer-2)
(USA)

08.11.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Engines of the LV 3rd stage failed to start, the spacecraft failed to reach the specified velocity.

(Luna)
(USSR)

04.12.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failure: Premature engine shutdown on the LV 2nd stage

(Pioneer-3)
(USA)

06.12.1958

An attempt to reach the Moon. Premature LV 1st stage shutdown, the spacecraft failed to reach the Moon. The maximum distance from the Earth was more than 100 thousand km. Study of the Earth radiation belts

(Luna-1)
(USSR)

02.01.1959

On January 4, 1959, 34 hours after the launch, the spacecraft passed at the distance of 6 000 kilometers from the lunar surface and became the first spacecraft to fly by the Moon and enter into orbit around the Sun. Data on the Earth radiation belts and solar wind were obtained, and it was established that the Moon has virtually no magnetic field (The spacecraft was supposed to impact with the Moon, but failed to do so due to inaccurate operation of the LV control system)

(Pioneer-4)
(USA)

06.03.1959

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failed to impact with the Moon. The 6 kg spacecraft passed at the distance of 60 200 km from the Moon and entered the orbit around the Sun

(Luna)
(USSR)

18.06.1959

An attempt to reach the Moon. Failure: The inertial control system failed 153 seconds after lift-off. The vehicle self-destroyed on command from the ground.

(Luna-2)
(USSR)

12.09.1959

The first spacecraft to make a hard landing on the Moon in the vicinity of craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. Delivered to the Moon the State Emblem of the USSR. On September 14, 33.5 hours after the launch, radio signals from Luna-2 were suddenly lost which confirmed the fact that the spacecraft had impacted with the Moon. It was confirmed that the Moon has no magnetic field, and established that it has no radiation belts

(Luna-3)
(USSR)

04.10.1959

First pictures of the far side of the Moon were taken and transmitted to Earth. There were photographic equipment, film-developing machine and a scanner onboard the spacecraft.   On October 7 the spacecraft passed over the far side of the Moon at the distance of about  65 thousand kilometers. 29 photographs were taken, covering about 70% of the far side surface area.  Only 17 photos could be received on Earth. The photos were not very clear. Two seas were discovered on the far side of the Moon: Sea of Moscow and Sea of Dreams

(Pioneer)
(USA)

26.11.1959

An attempt to reach the Moon. Launch failure – payload fairing disintegration

(Luna)
(USSR)

15.04.1960

Failure: Premature engine shutdown on the LV 3nd stage. The spacecraft went as far from Earth as 200 thousand kilometers and then returned to Earth

(Luna)
(USSR)

19.04.1960

Failure: One of the LV strap-on boosters detached from the core stage immediately after the launch

(Pioneer)
(USA)

25.09.1960

An attempt to launch an artificial Moon satellite. LV 2nd stage failure

(Pioneer)
(USA)

15.12.1960

An attempt to launch an artificial Moon satellite. Launch vehicle (LV) explosion 70 seconds after lift-off at the altitude of 12 km

Ranger-1
(USA)

23.08.1961

Failure: LV 2nd stage failure. The spacecraft failed to reach the orbit with the apogee above 1 million kilometers as was planned, but stayed in a low orbit and burned up in the Earth atmosphere

Ranger-2
(USA)

18.11.1961

Failure: LV 2nd stage failure. The spacecraft failed to achieve escape velocity, remained in low orbit and burned up in the atmosphere.

Ranger-3
(USA)

26.01.1962

The spacecraft was supposed to impact the Moon and take the images of its surface prior to impact, but due to malfunctioning LV control system it gained excessive velocity, missed the Moon by about 37 thousand km and went into a heliocentric orbit. Communication with the spacecraft was lost and it was impossible to perform trajectory correction.

Ranger-4
(USA)

23.04.1962

The spacecraft was supposed to impact on the Moon and perform the imaging of its surface prior to impact, but due to equipment malfunction it became uncontrollable. On April 26 it disappeared behind the rim of the Moon and soon impacted its surface on the far side. Ranger-4 became the first US spacecraft to make a hard landing on the Moon. It failed to image the lunar surface

Ranger-5
(USA)

18.10.1962

The spacecraft was supposed to impact the Moon and take the images of its surface prior to impact, but due to unknown malfunctions the hardware did not receive any power from solar arrays and after the storage batteries ran out the hardware went dead . Ranger-5 missed the Moon by 725 km and went into a heliocentric orbit. It obtained some data about the intensity of gamma radiation in space

Sputnik-25
(СССР)

04.01.1963

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to LV malfunction remained in an interim low-Earth orbit

(Luna)
(USSR)

03.02.1963

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to a control system malfunction failed to reach the interim low-Earth orbit and burned up in the Earth atmosphere

(Luna-4)
(USSR)

02.04.1963

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Missed the Moon by 8336 km and remained in orbit around Earth with a apogee of  700 thousand km

Ranger-6
(USA)

30.01.1964

The spacecraft was supposed to impact on the Moon and perform the imaging of its surface prior to impact. Due to TV cameras failure the images were not received. Ranger-6 impacted the Moon in the eastern part of Sea of Tranquility on February 2.

(Luna)
(USSR)

21.03.1964

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to launch vehicle malfunctions failed to reach the interim low-Earth orbit and burned up in the Earth atmosphere

(Luna)
(USSR)

20.04.1964

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to launch vehicle malfunctions failed to reach the interim low-Earth orbit and burned up in the Earth atmosphere

Ranger-7
(USA)

28.07.1964

The spacecraft impacted the lunar surface on July 31. Transmission of lunar images to Earth began at 17 minutes before the impact. 4308 good quality pictures were transmitted. The first picture was taken at the altitude of 2110 km, the last was taken immediately prior to impact. Discernable in the last few pictures are surface features as small as 0.5 m. The first fully successful mission of a Ranger-series spacecraft

Ranger-8
(USA)

17.02.1965

The spacecraft impacted the lunar surface on February 20. Transmission of lunar images to Earth began at 23 minutes before the impact. 7137 pictures were transmitted. The first picture was taken at the altitude of 2510 km, the last was taken immediately prior to impact. Discernable in the last few pictures are surface features as small as 1.5 m.

Kosmos-60
(USSR)

12.03.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to malfunctions the LV failed to inject into translunar trajectory from a low-Earth orbit. Remained in the orbit under the designation Kosmos-60

Ranger-9
(USA)

21.03.1965

The spacecraft impacted the lunar surface on March 24. Transmission of lunar images to Earth began at 19 minutes before the impact. 5814 pictures were transmitted. The first picture was taken at the altitude of 2363 km, the last was taken immediately prior to impact. Discernable in the last few pictures are surface features as small as 0.3 m. US TV networks made live brodacasts of the received pictures

(Luna)
(USSR)

10.04.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to LV malfunctions failed to reach the interim low-Earth orbit

Luna-5
(USSR)

09.05.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. It did reach the Moon, but due to retrorocket failure could not perform a soft landing and crashed on the lunar surface.

Luna-6
(USSR)

08.06.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. Due to a malfunction in the navigation system it missed the Moon by 159 612 km

Zond-3
(USSR)

18.07.1965

On July 20 the spacecraft fly by the far side of the Moon at an altitude of 10 000 km and transmitted to Earth 25 very high-quality pictures covering about 19 000 000 sq. km of the lunar surface. Subsequently the spacecraft went in a heliocentric orbit, continuing space research with the use of scientific instruments available onboard

Luna-7
(USSR)

04.10.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. It did reach the Moon, but due to retrorocket failure could not perform a soft landing and crashed on the lunar surface.

Luna-8
(USSR)

03.12.1965

Unmanned spacecraft designed for soft landing on the Moon. It did reach the Moon, but due to delayed retrorocket burn could not perform a soft landing and crashed on the lunar surface.

Luna-9
(USSR)

31.01.1966

The first soft landing on the Moon, made on February 3. For three days the spacecraft was transmitting pictures taken on the lunar surface

Kosmos-111
(USSR)

01.03.1966

Unmanned spacecraft designed for insertion into a circumlunar orbit. Due to LV malfunctions failed to leave a low-Earth orbit

Luna-10
(USSR)

31.03.1966

The first artificial satellite of the Moon. It was equipped with a number of scientific instruments: gamma spectrometer, magnetometer, meteoroid detector, instruments for solar plasma studies, as well as a recorder which played back The Internationale for the delegates of the 23rd Congress of  the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. Studies of lunar gravitational field were conducted. Communications with the spacecraft were maintained till May 30

Surveyor-1
(USA)

30.05.1966

The first soft landing of a US spacecraft on the Moon on June 2, 1966. The spacecraft transmitted to Earth 11 150 high-quality pictures from the lunar surface. It was also equipped with a number of scientific instruments. Communication with the spacecraft was maintained till January 7, 1967

 

«Luna-3»
The third 'first' was scored with the launch of the Luna-3 spacecraft on October 4, 1959. The date was not chosen randomly. The main task for which this spacecraft was designed – taking pictures of the far side of the Moon - could only be accomplished if launched on a specific day at a certain hour – and the opportunity came only once a month.
АМС «Луна-3»And the launch of Luna-3 turned out to be successful in all respects. The lift-off occurred at the set time. Luna-3 entered its target trajectory, and this was very important, since at the time there were still no means of correcting the trajectory in flight. The sets of onboard and ground equipment which supported the mission operated, on the whole, successfully.

The TV equipment suite designed to receive on Earth the pictures of the far side of the Moon was called Yenisey and included the onboard photographic and TV camera (which could operate in two modes: 'slow' and 'fast') and two types of receiving equipment: or the 'fast' mode (when flying by Earth at a fairly close distance of 40-50 thousand km) and for 'slow' mode (when the spacecraft was flying at large distances from Earth).


The equipment of the Yenisey TV system was developed by specialists from the All-Union Television Research Institute. For receiving systems both fixed and vehicular versions were built. Designated and equipped with appropriate equipment for receiving TV signal from the spacecraft were two ground tracking stations: The primary station in Crimea (based on Crimean observatory in Simeiz), the other one in Kamchatka. On October 7 Luna-3 reached the vicinity of the Moon and (for the first time in the history of space technology) established the attitude of the spacecraft using reference targets – the Sun and the Moon. After that the attitude of the spacecraft was maintained automatically through the entire period of imaging.

 

55 luna 07After the proper command had been sent onboard the spacecraft, at 6 h 30 min Moscow Time, the photographic and TV camera Yenisey began imaging the far side of the Moon. The pictures

The AB-type 35 mm photographic film used in the Yenisey camera has an unusual story behind it. According to specialists, the Soviet industry at that time couldn't yet manufacture the photographic film that met all the requirements. But Russian resourcefulness came to rescue. Since mid 1950s the US began using for reconnaissance purposes balloons outfitted with special photographic equipment. They were launched from military bases in Western Europe, and, following the predominant winds, eventually appeared over the Soviet territory. Quite a lot of such balloons were shot down. The photographic film from those spy balloons turned out to meet the requirements of the Yenisey equipment. It was then that a decision was made, without telling a word to the higher management, to cut the film to the required size, to punch in it sprocket holes and use it for taking pictures of the far side of the Moon. And that is where the tongue-in-cheek designation of the type of this photographic film comes from – AB stood for "American Balloons".

were taken with exposure times of 1/200, 1/400, 1/600 and 1/ 800 s over a period of 40 minutes using a camera with two lenses, which had focal distances of 200 mm and 500 mm. The distance from the center of the Moon at that time was about 65000 km. The spacecraft launch time, flight path, time of imaging were selected such as to make sure that the pictures also cover a certain portion of the side of the Moon that is visible from Earth. This was required for referencing the coordinates of the lunar features.


After having taken pictures the onboard photographic TV camera Yenisey automatically developed the exposed film, after which it was rewound into a special storage container.

Immediately after the launch of Luna-3 S.P.Korolev, M.V. Keldysh, B.Y. Chertok and other deputies and aids of S.P.Korolev, Chief Designers of the systems of the launch vehicle and the spacecraft, including Y.Y. Boguslavsky, Chief Designer of the Yenisey TV system I.L.Valik and others flew to the Crimean tracking station. The activation of the spacecraft onboard equipment was performed directly from there at a time suitable from the standpoint of signal reception conditions.


The TV signal received from Luna-3 was recorded on the tape recorder, on 35 mm photographic film using the equipment of the Yenisey receiving system, was reproduced on monitor screens, on electric paper using direct recording equipment. 

55 luna 09
Trajectories of Luna-3 and the Moon


The first image of the lunar surface began to come in when the spacecraft was at the distance of 470 thousand km from Earth, which was entered in The Guinness Book of Records. And although this and subsequent frames from deep space were distorted with noise, the specialists were enraptured. As the spacecraft was approaching the Earth, the contrast in the received pictures got better, and the quality of the images improved.


Due to limited power supply onboard Luna-3, as well as to the reception conditions, communication sessions with the spacecraft were conducted, as a rule, once per day.
On October 18, when the spacecraft came back to Earth to a fairly close distance of 40-50 thousand km, the 'fast' data transmission mode was activated onboard the spacecraft. Pictures with good contrast range and low level of noise were received. After that the reception of signals stopped. The most likely cause was the failure of the transmitter or the power sources. According to specialists, the spacecraft existed for several more months and completed 11 orbits.


All the records made by the receiving systems were submitted to the Pulkovo observatory for study and became the basic source for compiling the Atlas of the Far Side of the Moon.
In April 1960, there were two more attempts to launch spacecraft with the same mission objective as Luna-3, but both failed. The available stock of flight models of the onboard TV equipment was thus used up.


The project to photograph the far side of the Moon was only completed with the successful launch of Zond-3, which took pictures of that part of the lunar surface which had not been covered by Luna-3, and the quality of the pictures was much better this time.


Most historians find the explanation for the successes of the Soviet space science of that period in the genius and managerial talents of the Chief Designer S.P. Korolev, the head of the Special Design Bureau No.1 (now RSC Energia). There is no doubt that his personality played an tremendous role.

The events of those years are described in more detail by their active participant B.Y.Chertok in his engrossing book, which we have quoted above.

Работа художника А.К. Соколова  АМС "Луна-3"   

Luna-3

Painting by A.K. Sokolov

 

 

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