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Luna 9

Courtesy of NASA's National Space Science Data Center


Launch Date/Time: 1966-01-31 at 11:45:00 UTC
Launch Site/Country: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R.
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage
On-orbit dry mass: 1,580.00 kg. (3,476 lb.)


The Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a lunar soft landing and to transmit photographic data to Earth. The automatic lunar station that achieved the soft landing weighed 99 kilograms (218 pounds). It was a hermetically sealed 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 by a fourth stage rocket that separated itself from the payload. Flight apparatus separated from the payload shortly before Luna 9 landed.

After landing in the Ocean of Storms on February 3, 1966, the four petals, which formed the spacecraft, opened outward and stabilized the spacecraft on the lunar surface. Spring-controlled antennas assumed operating positions, and the television camera rotatable 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 kilometers (.9 miles) away from the spacecraft.

The purpose of this experiment was to obtain information on the characteristics of the lunar surface. These characteristics include the amount of cratering, structure and size of craters, the amount, distribution, and sizes of ejecta, mechanical properties of the surface such as bearing strength, cohesiveness, compaction, etc. Determination and recognition of processes operating to produce the lunar surface features also were among the objectives of this photographic experiment.


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