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Luna 16

Courtesy of NASA's National Space Science Data Center

Launch Date: 1970-09-12
Launch Site/Country: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R.
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages
On-orbit dry mass: 5600.00 kg. (12,320 lb.)

Description

Luna 16 was launched toward the Moon from a preliminary earth orbit and entered a lunar orbit on September 17, 1970. On September 20, the spacecraft soft landed on the lunar surface in Mare Foecunditatis (the Sea of Fertility) as planned. According to the Bochum Radio Space Observatory in the Federal Republic of Germany, strong and good quality television pictures were returned by the spacecraft. However, such pictures were not made available to the U.S. by any sources so there is question as to the reliability of the Bochum report. The spacecraft was equipped with an extendable arm with a drilling rig for the collection of a lunar soil sample. After 26 hours and 25 minutes on the lunar surface, the ascent stage, with a hermetically sealed soil sample container, left the lunar surface. It landed in the Soviet Union on September 24, 1970. The lower stage of Luna 16 remained on the lunar surface and continued transmission of lunar temperature and radiation data.

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