Luna 9
Overview
 
Luna 9 (internal name E-6 N. 13) was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing
Soft landing (rocketry)
A soft landing is any type of aircraft or rocket landing that does not result in the destruction of the vehicle or anything onboard. Unlike a hard landing, soft landings are very smooth and steady. They are often called 'good landings' because of the smooth way the aircraft lands....

 on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

.

The automatic lunar station that achieved the survivable landing weighed 99 kg
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

. It used a landing bag and survived the impact at 15 meters/second (54 km/h or 34 mph).
Encyclopedia
Luna 9 (internal name E-6 N. 13) was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing
Soft landing (rocketry)
A soft landing is any type of aircraft or rocket landing that does not result in the destruction of the vehicle or anything onboard. Unlike a hard landing, soft landings are very smooth and steady. They are often called 'good landings' because of the smooth way the aircraft lands....

 on any planetary body other than Earth and to transmit photographic data to Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

.

The automatic lunar station that achieved the survivable landing weighed 99 kg
Kilogram
The kilogram or kilogramme , also known as the kilo, is the base unit of mass in the International System of Units and is defined as being equal to the mass of the International Prototype Kilogram , which is almost exactly equal to the mass of one liter of water...

. It used a landing bag and survived the impact at 15 meters/second (54 km/h or 34 mph). It was a hermetically sealed
Hermetic seal
A hermetic seal is the quality of being airtight. In common usage, the term often implies being impervious to air or gas. When used technically, it is stated in conjunction with a specific test method and conditions of usage.-Etymology :...

 container with radio equipment, a program timing device, heat control systems, scientific apparatus, power sources, and a television system. The Luna 9 payload was carried to Earth orbit by an A-2-E vehicle and then conveyed toward the Moon
Moon
The Moon is Earth's only known natural satellite,There are a number of near-Earth asteroids including 3753 Cruithne that are co-orbital with Earth: their orbits bring them close to Earth for periods of time but then alter in the long term . These are quasi-satellites and not true moons. For more...

 by a fourth stage rocket that separated itself from the payload. The flight apparatus separated from the payload shortly before Luna 9 landed.

After landing in the Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum
Oceanus Procellarum is a vast lunar mare on the western edge of the near side of the Earth's Moon. Its name derives from the old superstition that its appearance during the second quarter heralded bad weather...

 on February 3, the four petals, which covered the top half of the spacecraft, opened outward and stabilized the spacecraft on the lunar surface. Spring-controlled antennas assumed operating positions, and the television camera rotating mirror system, which operated by revolving and tilting, began a photographic survey of the lunar environment. Seven radio sessions, totaling 8 hours and 5 minutes, were transmitted as were three series of TV pictures.

When assembled, the photographs provided a panoramic view of the nearby lunar surface. The pictures included views of nearby rocks and of the horizon 1.4 km away from the spacecraft.

For unknown reasons, the pictures from Luna 9 were not released immediately by the Soviet authorities. Instead, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, which was monitoring the craft, noticed that the signal format used was identical to the internationally-agreed system used by newspapers for transmitting pictures. The Daily Express
Daily Express
The Daily Express switched from broadsheet to tabloid in 1977 and was bought by the construction company Trafalgar House in the same year. Its publishing company, Beaverbrook Newspapers, was renamed Express Newspapers...

 rushed a suitable receiver to the Observatory and the pictures from Luna 9 were decoded and published worldwide. The BBC reports speculated that the spacecraft's designers deliberately fitted the probe with equipment that conformed to the standard, specifically to enable reception of the pictures by Jodrell Bank.

With this mission, the Soviets accomplished another spectacular first in the space race
Space Race
The Space Race was a mid-to-late 20th century competition between the Soviet Union and the United States for supremacy in space exploration. Between 1957 and 1975, Cold War rivalry between the two nations focused on attaining firsts in space exploration, which were seen as necessary for national...

, the first survivable landing of a man-made object on another celestial body. Luna 9 was the twelfth attempt at a soft-landing by the Soviets; it was also the first deep space probe built by the Lavochkin design bureau, which ultimately would design and build almost all Soviet (and Russian) lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. All operations prior to landing occurred without fault, and the 58 centimeter spheroid ALS capsule landed on the Moon at 18:45:30 UT on February 3, 1966 west of the craters Reiner
Reiner (crater)
Reiner is a lunar impact crater on the Oceanus Procellarum, in the western part of the Moon. It has a nearly circular rim, but appears oval in shape due to foreshortening. The rim edge is well-defined and has not been eroded by impacts. In the mid-point of the irregular crater floor is a central peak...

 and Marius
Marius (crater)
Marius is a lunar crater located on the Oceanus Procellarum. The surface to the west and north of this crater contains a large number of lunar domes spread across an area over a hundred kilometers in diameter that may be of volcanic origin dubbed the Marius Hills...

 in the Ocean of Storms (at 7°8' north latitude and 64°22' west longitude). Approximately five minutes after touchdown, Luna 9 began transmitting data to Earth, but it was seven hours (after the Sun climbed to 7° elevation) before the probe began sending the first of nine images (including five panoramas) of the surface of the Moon. These were the first images sent from the surface of another planetary body.

The radiation detector, the only scientific instrument on board, measured a dosage of 30 millirads (0.3 milligrays
Gray (unit)
The gray is the SI unit of absorbed radiation dose of ionizing radiation , and is defined as the absorption of one joule of ionizing radiation by one kilogram of matter ....

) per day. Perhaps the most important discovery of the mission was determining that a foreign object would not simply sink into the lunar dust
Lunar soil
Lunar soil is the fine fraction of the regolith found on the surface of the Moon. Its properties can differ significantly from those of terrestrial soil...

, that is, that the ground could support a heavy lander. Last contact with the spacecraft was at 22:55 UT on February 6, 1966.

External links

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