The First Lunar Probes

Following the Sputnik launches in 1957 and 1958, the Soviet Union's next achievement in space was the exploration of the Moon. In 1959, Luna-1, Luna-2 and Luna-3 were the first spacecrafs to achieve escape velocity, impact the Moon and photograph its far side.

Rocket Carrying A Luna Probe

Cosmic Rocket

The R-7 rocket was augmented with a third stage, making it possible to acheive escape velocity and reach the Moon. New ground facilities were built to deal with guidance, remote control and telemetry for the first deep space mission.

The Luna-2 Probe

Lunar Impact

Luna-1 missed the Moon by a small amount, but was the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity. Luna-2 became the first spacecraft to impact the Moon, a remarkable achievement of rocket guidance at that time. Among the important scientific results of these missions was the discovery of the solar wind.

Lunar Image from Luna-3

The Hidden Side of the Moon

Luna-3 was the first successful 3-axis stabilized spacecraft. Carrying a camera system, it gave mankind the first view of the hidden far side of the Moon.


Copyright 2007 Don P. Mitchell. All rights reserved.