Category Soviet Robots in the Solar System

Space гасе


The latter hall’ of the 20th Century will forever be known as the time when the human race broke its Earth-bound chains and began to explore the boundless reaches of interplanetary space. The Soviet Union initiated this enterprise with its Earth orbiting satellite ‘Sputnik’, meaning ‘fellow traveler’, in 1957, and shortly thereafter Soviet scientists made the first attempts to send spacecraft to the Moon and to the planets. What followed were 38 years of triumph and tragedy in one of the most cxcitmg adventures in recent human history.

The first pioneers of space flight lived in the first half of the 20th Century. Tsiolkovsky, Tsander and Kondratyuk in Russia, Obcrth in Germany, Goddard in the US, and later Korolev and Glushko in the Soviet Union, von Braun in the US, and Esnault-Pcltcrie in France, all believed that humankind could travel to other planets in the Solar System using new developments in rocket propulsion. These early visionaries established the notion that it was in fact possible to fly to the planets, but their dreams became reality only after the intervention of World War II created the technological catalyst for accomplishing deep space propulsion. By the end of the 20th Century, humans had set foot on the Moon and had sent robotic spacecraft to most of the planets, as well as to some comets and asteroids.

Most of the history of space exploration in the 20th Century is characterized by intense competition for dominance between the USSR and USA. At the dawn of the ‘space age’ the two nations were developing TCBMs to drop nuclear warheads on each other’s cities. Europe and Japan were preoccupied with rebuilding after the devastation of World War II. The USSR launched the first artificial satellite, Sputnik on October 4, 1957, using a modified version of their first operational ICBM. The first human space flight was also Soviet; Yuri Gagarin’s orbital flight of April 12, 1961. These events shocked Americans, who had difficulty imagining how they could not have been first into space. The Americans also immediately recognized the implications of these events for their national defense. The USA mobilized a massive space development program of its own in 1958, and on May 25, 1961 President

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies >

and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Books 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1 1,

© Springer Science 4-Business Media, LLC 2011 4 Space race

Kennedy formulated a national goal to land a man on the Moon before the decade was оul implicitly meaning that this man should be American, not Russian.

The Soviet Union was slow to respond to the challenge, but in 1964 initiated a national program to send a cosmonaut to the Moon ahead of the Americans. The Americans won the ‘race’ on July 20, 1969. with Apollo 1 Us touchdown on the Sea of Tranquility. The Soviet program stalled after a series of failures of the N-l heavy rocket, their equivalent to the American Saturn V, but the USSR produced dramatic results with robotic lunar rover and sample return missions through 1976. The Americans shut down their Apollo lunar program in 1972 after six successful flights to the lunar surface.

The space race’ was a Cold War phenomenon, but just like the international air races in the first half of the 20th Century, the space race resulted in an explosion of research and technological development. While competition in space exploration between the USSR and the USA originally focused principally on flying humans to the Moon, there w as also competition to fly robotic spacecraft to the Moon and beyond, and this yielded remarkable feats of engineering and enormous scientific progress in understanding our Solar System and technological progress for Earth applications. If it had not been for the political imperatives of the Cold War, it is highly unlikely that the national investments required for this progress would have been made. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Russian robotic space exploration program withered aw’ay.

This book provides the technical details of the Soviet Union’s robotic space exploration missions, beginning with the attempted launch of a lunar impaetor on September 23, 1958. and concluding with the final launch in the Russian national scientific space program in the 20th Century, the Mars-96 mission, on November 16. 1996. Each flight campaign is placed into the political and historical context in which the entire endeavor occurred, chronicling the boldness of the program, the daring spirit of its creators, the genius of its implementation, and the successes and in some cases the tragic failures in its execution. The book is in two parts. Part I describes the pieces that must be combined to make up a space program: the key players who make things happen; the institutions that design, build and operate the hardware; the rockets that offer access to space; and the spacecraft that carry out the enterprise. Part II is a chronological account of how the pieces are put together to undertake space flight and mission campaigns. Each chapter covers a particular period, usually several years, when specific mission campaigns were undertaken during launch windows determined by celestial mechanics. Each chapter in Part 11 gives a short overview of the flight missions that occurred during the time period and the political and historical context for the flight mission campaigns, including what the Americans were doing at the time. The bulk of each chapter is devoted to the scientific and engineering details of each flight campaign, and in each case the spacecraft and payloads are described in as much technical detail as is available at the time of writing this book, the progress of the flight is described, and a synopsis of the scientific results is given.

The Soviet robotic space program was dramatic, and was driven by a thirst for technological achievement and a desire for international recognition and respect. It achieved all these things. Soviet robotic spacecraft were first on the Moon, first on Venus, and first on Mars.


In early 1958 Korolev began planning for planetary missions. His original intention w as to use the 8K73, a version of the 8K72 with a more capable third stage. During that summer OKB-1 began w ork on spacecraft for launch to Venus in June 1959 and Mars in September 1960. However, the 8K73 project and the 1959 Venus mission were abandoned w’hen Glushko’s engines for the new’ third stage had development problems. Korolev turned to Kosberg again and decided to adapt the second stage of the new’ silo-based ICBM under development, the R-9A. also know n as the 8K75. as the third stage for his planetary launcher. Kosberg fitted the stage with larger tanks to sustain the longer engine burn times. In the meantime, the R-7 w as still in its final development phases in preparation for operational deployment.

During 1958 an improved version of the basic tw o-stage R-7. the R-7A or 8K74.

was being developed for easier operational servicing and greater performance. The 8K74 had all-inertial guidance with the original radio guidance system retained only as a backup, improved engines for reliability, redesigned verniers for simpler control and increased performance, a new ignition system, and some portions of the engines were moved nearer to service hatches. The first launch of the 8K74 on December 24. 1959, was a success. The 8K74 became the basic two-stage booster for generations of launchers to the present day. The only 8K71-based vehicles used after this 8K74 test were two 8K72 Luna launches on April 12 and 18. 1960. both of which failed.

In all this rush of rocket development in 1958 59, Keldysh*s mathematicians had determined that continuous burn of all stages was an inefficient use of energy to reach interplanetary velocities. Continuous burn also required precise timing without margin for launch delays. Instead they recommended a scheme in which the booster placed an escape stage into low Earth orbit. This would be ignited when the orbital phasing was optimum for launch towards the Moon or planetary target, and once on course it would release its payload.

Abandoning the three-stage approach for lunar and planetary launches, in early 1959 Korolev began w ork on a four-stage approach. The airframe of the 8K74 core vehicle w as strengthened to support the mass of the new upper stages, modifications w ere made to the operating pressures and burn programs to increase the thrust of the core vehicle, a stronger open truss was provided between the suStainer and third stage, and new guidance and control systems were supplied for the upper stages. The К os berg third stage was modified further with an increased propellant load and an upgraded 8D715K four-chamber engine and designated Block I. The 8K74 III two – stage core vehicle w ith the new Block I third stage and a first burn by a new fourth stage. Block L. built by OKB-1. would put the Block L and spacecraft combination in Earth orbit. The Block L was made res tart able, so that its second burn would put the spacecraft on an interplanetary trajectory. It would be capable of sending 1,600 kg to the Moon or 1,200 kg to either Venus or Mars. This four-stage 8K78 is known as the ‘Molniya* launcher. A prototype with a dummy fourth stage w7as successfully tested on January 20. 1960, with a second successful test 10 days later. The Block L completed its ground tests in the summer of 1960. and Korolev rushed preparations for three Mars launches on the first tests of this new launcher. 1 he spacecraft were also built in a great rush before the launch window7 closed in mid-October. Only two rockets made it to the launch pad on time.

The first flight test of the complete 8K78 occurred on October 10, 1960, w ith a 1M Mars spacecraft at the top of the stack. The spacecraft had to be stripped down in order to provide sufficient mass for rocket test instrumentation. The launch failed when resonant vibrations in the upper stages damaged the avionics during third stage burn and the rocket veered off course. A second attempt on October 14 also failed when the third stage engine did not ignite because a LOX leak on the pad had frozen kerosene in the fuel lines. The first test of the Block L did not come until the third flight on Kebruary 4, 1961, which attempted to launch a 1 VA Venus spacecraft. The first three stages performed perfectly, but the Block L was stranded in Earth orbit by a primary powder failure.

The Block L stage was a challenging design because it had to coast unpowered for


Figure 4.3 Launch vehicles for robotic spacecraft in 1961. From left, US Viking, US Jupiter-C, US Atlas-Agena, USSR 8K-72 Luna, USSR RK-7R Molniya (from Peter Gorin in Siddiqi 2000).

almost 2 hours in Earth orbit without losing volatile propellant, orient itself to the proper firing attitude at a programmed time, and ignite its engine in a zero-G state. The engine used a more efficient ‘closed-cycle’ technology which US rocket makers deemed unworkable, and used gimbals for yaw and pitch control and a pair of small verniers for roll control. The stage used, a cold gas attitude control system and solid rockets to provide ullage control before engine ignition in zero-G. The challenges of perfecting this planetary injection stage proved difficult. The Block L succeeded on its second opportunity on February 12, I960, deploying Venera 1. But it failed many times thereafter, including the final planetary mission to use the Molniya launcher on March 31, 1972, when the Block L stage failed to put another spacecraft intended for Venus on an escape trajectory.

In 1962 an extended shroud was introduced to accommodate the next generation


Figure 4.4 R-7 vehicle on rail carrier.

2MV Mars and Venus spacecraft and the sustainer engines were upgraded. In 1964 a new version of the 8K78 was introduced, with improved versions of Glushko’s RD – 107/8 engines and an improved engine in the Block L fourth stage. This vehicle was designated 8K.78M, and was known in the West variously as SL-6 and А-2-е. Tt was first used for the test launch of a 3MV Venera spacecraft on March 19, 1964, then used consistently for Venus missions until the introduction of the Proton-launched spacecraft in 1975. Mars launches used the 8K78 until switching to the Proton in 1969. The Ye-6 Luna probes used both the 8K78 and 8K78M vehicles until Luna 9 on January 31, 1966, when the SK78M came into exclusive use. A variant of this vehicle was created for the Luna soft landing missions, in which the avionics were deleted from the upper stages to save mass and the Ye-6 spacecraft controlled the functioning of the third and fourth stages. This vehicle was designated with a / Ye-6 suffix. The 8K78 vehicle was completely replaced by the 8K78M after December 1965. ‘

The 8K78M received another upgrade in 1966-67 when the core and strap-ons were replaced by those of the three-stage LSoyuz’ version used in the manned space program. In 1965, responsibility lor the Block L stage was transferred from OKB-1 to NPO-Lavochkin, which introduced improvements in 1968 including upgraded avionics and a new third stage interface and fairing design. Lavochkin produced two versions of this new Block L, one for lunar and planetary missions and the other to place ‘Molniya’ communications satellites into highly elliptical Earth orbits. Further improvements to the 8K78M were made in 1974 and again in 1980. In its various forms the Molniya launcher was the workhorse for the lunar and planetary program in the 1960s and early 1970s, successfully deploying the Luna 4 to 14 missions from 1963-1968, Mars missions from 1960-1965 including Mars 1, and Venera 1 to 8 from 1961-1972. The versatility of the ‘Semyorka’ rocket is demonstrated by its continued


Figure 4.5 Molniya launch.

use up to the present day, particularly in its three-stage Soyuz* variant. It resumed its utility for planetary launches on June 2, 2003, with the successful launch of the Mars Express spacecraft for the European Space Agency using a Soyuz fitted with the new Fregal fourth stage.

Mission description

Of the six Ye-1 spacecraft launched, only two survived the process. A seventh was returned to the barn after its launcher failed to lift off. Aware from press reports that the Americans were to try for the Moon on August 17, Korolev managed with great effort to prepare a vehicle for the same day. There were a number of malfunctions during pre-launch preparations, but he knew that his flight path to the Moon was shorter than the Americans so he waited before risking a launch to see if the Florida launch succeeded. When the US rocket blew up after only 77 seconds of flight, he stood down in order to perform more careful preparations and additional testing. How ever, the launch on September 23 failed when the strap-on boosters of the first stage developed resonant longitudinal vibrations in the second minute of flight. The various stages separated at 93 seconds, fell back and exploded. Reacting to pressure to beat the US to the Moon, Korolev is said to have lost his temper and replied "Do you think only American rockets explode? ‘ Indeed not, and he could not know that the Soviet lunar program w ould be plagued w ith rocket failures for years to come.

The second American attempt at the Moon was scheduled for October 11, amid a flurry of press coverage. Korolev w’as again ready that same day. The wdiole world w as aware of events in Florida, but only a few in the USSR were aw are of Korolev with his linger on the launch button at Baikonur, ready to beat the Americans to the Moon using a faster trajectory. News of the US launch was relayed to Korolev. But the third stage failed, preventing Pioneer 1 from reaching the Moon. Sitting now in the catbird seat, Korolev proceeded with his launch. Later the same day, the second Luna 8K72 launcher blew up 104 seconds into its flight due to the same vibrations wiiich had destroyed the first vehicle.

The two failures in row w’ere demoralizing. It w’as discovered from analyzing the w reckage that the additional mass of the third stage was creating resonant vibration in the basic R-7 booster wThich had not been present before. The problem was solved with minor design changes, but it would take two months and Korolev had to watch over his shoulders as America made a third attempt on November 8. but this too fell short.

The third launch on December 4 failed yet again, this time caused by a different problem. The rocket sailed through the period wdien vibrations broke up the previous two rockets, but after 4 minutes of flight the thrust of the second stage engine began to diminish and then the engine shut dow n due to a gear box failure in the hydrogen peroxide turbine pump. Frustrated, but relieved by the fourth American failure two days later on December 6, Korolev prepared for another


Figure 6.5 Luna, launch


Figure 6.6 Luna 2 mounted on the Block L fourth stage prior to launch.

attempt. The fourth launch was a success and on January 2, 1959, put Ye-1 No.4 on a trajectory to the Moon. The spent third stage released a 1 kg cloud of sodium gas on January 3, some 113,000 km from Earth, producing a glowing orange trail visible over the Indian Ocean with the brightness of a sixth-magnitude star. The experiment provided data on the behavior of ionized gas in near-Earth space, and was used for tracking. Luna 1 (as the probe was later named) missed its target and passed within 5,965 km of the lunar surface on January 4 after 34 hours of flight. The miss was caused by a late second-stage shutdown command from the ground radio guidance. Nevertheless, Luna 1 holds three cosmic ‘firsts’, being the first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity, the first spacecraft to fly close by the Moon, and the first spacecraft to enter an independent heliocentric orbit. Contact was lost on January 5, after 62 hours of flight, possibly when its battery drained.

Luna 1 was a major success and feather in the cap of Soviet space exploration, but it failed to impact the Moon as planned and the program goal was not yet fulfilled. After further problems with the R-7 in the beginning of 1959, another spacecraft was readied that incorporated modifications to the magnetometer, Geiger counters and micrometeoroid detectors resulting from the successful m-flight measurements of both Luna 1 in January 1959 and the American Pioneer 4 lunar flyby in March. The modifications earned it a new Ye-IA designation. The first attempt to launch a fifth spacecraft, Yc-IA No.5, was aborted on June 16, 1959, when it was discovered that the third stage tank had been filled with the standard kerosene instead of the higher density type required for this mission. The tanks were emptied, refilled with the proper fuel, and a second launch attempt made two days later. All went awry when the launch vehicle deviated from the planned trajectory after 153 seconds. One of the gyroscopes in the inertial guidance system had failed, and the launcher was destroyed by ground command.

An aborted launch of a sixth spacecraft occurred on September 9, 1959, when the core sustainer engine failed to reach full thrust upon ignition. ‘Hie launcher remained on its mount, and all the engines were shut down after 20 seconds. The rocket was replaced by a backup. The spacecraft on the aborted rocket was probably the Ye-1A Ко.6 model. Three days later Luna 2 (Ye-IA Ко.7) was successfully launched on a lunar trajectory. On 13 September, at a distance of 156,000 km, the spent third stage released its sodium cloud. Luna 2 impacted the Moon at 23:02:23 UT September 14. after 33.5 hours of flight, near the Autolycus crater in the Marsh of Decay region at about 29. Г N 0.0 E. Some 30 minutes later, the third stage of the Luna launcher also impacted the Moon.

Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to impact another celestial body. The Soviets had announced their transmission frequencies and Jodrcll Bank in hngland tracked the spacecraft through its the final plunge to silence. There had been some claims in the West that Luna 1 was a fraud, but Sir Bernard Lovell’s tracking and radio recordings provided all the proof needed that Luna 2 had hit the Moon. Nikita Khrushchev celebrated the achievement by presenting President Eisenhower with duplicates of the Soviet emblems that had been carried to the Moon at a United Nations meeting in Kew York on September 15, 1959.


Luna 1 was the first spacecraft to reach the vicinity of the Moon. The measurements obtained provided new data on the Earth’s radiation belt, and discovered the solar wind – a thin, energetic ioni/cd plasma flowing outward from the Sun past the Earth and Moon. It established that the micrometeoroid flux between Earth and Moon was small, and placed an upper limit on the strength of any magnetic field that the Moon may possess at no more than 1/10.000th that of Earth.

Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to impact on the Moon. It verified at much closer distance that the Moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and found no evidence of radiation belts around the Moon.


Campaign objectives:

By the end of 1965 the Soviets had failed in a total of sixteen launches to Venus and Mars. Ten of these failed attempts were aimed at Venus, including the most recent Venera 2 and 3 missions that had come so close to achieving their goals. Adding to the frustration was the fact that by this time the US had succeeded with close flybys at Venus in 1962 and at Mars in 1964. Nevertheless, the Soviets were encouraged by their near successes, and were determined to push on. Realizing that the US was to attempt another Venus flyby mission in 1967. the Soviets wanted to outdo them with two missions to pierce the cloudy veil of the planet and obtain new information on its mysterious atmosphere and surface.

Spacecraft launched

First spacecraft:

Venera 4 (IV No.310)

Mission Type:

Venus Atmosphere/Surface Probe

Country/ Builder:

1 JSSR/NPO-Lavoch ki n

Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date: Time:

June 12, 1967 at 02:39:45 UT (Baikonur)

Encounter Date/ Time:

October 18, 1967



Second spacecraft:

Cosmos 167 (IV No.311)

Mission Type:

Venus Atmosphere/Surfaее Probe

Country і Builder:

1 JSSR/NPO-Lavoch ki n

Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date: Time:

June 17, 1967 at 02:36:38 UT (Baikonur)


Failed to depart Earth orbit.

After Venera 2 and 3 the robotic planetary program was transferred from OKB-1 to NPO-Lavochkin. Beginning in April 1965 Babakin decided not to send any more llyby missions to Venus after the 1965 campaign and Lavochkin began to revise the 3MV spacecraft for the 1967 window for this planet, concentrating heavily on entry and landing. Working from 3MV blueprints supplied by OKB-1 and insight drawn from the Venera 2 and 3 experience. Babakin’s engineers devised improvements to the thermal control and other systems. Lavochkin did more ground testing and built two new test facilities, one a thermal vacuum chamber completed in January 1967 to test the spacecraft under simulated flight conditions and the other a centrifuge rated at 500 G to test the entry and descent system. The first test of an entry probe in this chamber at the 350-450 G load expected for high angle Venus entries near 11 krn/s destroyed its internal components. As the earlier descent capsules would certainly not have worked, the design had to be modified. This revitalized effort was rewarded immediately with the USSR’s first truly successful planetary mission in 8 years of trying, with Venera 4 yielding in-situ data on the atmosphere of Venus. It began a new and much more fruitful era in the Soviet investigation of this planet.


Carney spacecraft:

These spacecraft were the first 3MV for Venera missions built by NPO-Lavochkin which, in particular, greatly improved the thermal control system that had caused so much trouble with Venera 2 and 3. The hemispherical fluid radiators on the ends of the solar panels were deleted and a new system of heat transfer pipes located behind the parabolic antenna, which itself served as a radiator since it faced in the opposite direction to the solar panels. Liquid coolant was abandoned in favor of gas coolant. The communication system was also improved and the omnidirectional antenna was replaced by low gain spiral cone antennas mounted on booms connected to the solar panels and angled in flight to keep Earth in the radiation pattern. As previously, the spacecraft had to be turned to aim its high gain antenna at Earth, but this was only during scheduled communications sessions and operations at Venus.

Like its predecessors. Venera 4 w? as 3.5 meters tall, the solar panels had a span of 4 meters and the parabolic high gain antenna w as 2.3 meters in diameter. The panels measured 2.5 square meters but. as previously, were sparsely populated with cells. The noticeable difference between Venera 4 and its predecessors in the 3MV series were the change in the solar panels to a more rectangular shape and the absence of the hemispherical radiators.

Entry vehicle:

For the 1967 mission the entry capsule was strengthened to resist stresses as high as 350 G and given an internal damper to reduce shock effects during entry and landing. At 1 meter in diameter it was 10 cm larger than the previous probes and nearly spherical with an ablative surface and a covered opening in the rear hemisphere for deployment of the parachute and antennas. It was the first of a series of entry probes which would be progressively better suited to survive the descent down to the surface. The internal mass distribution was bottom heavy to ensure the proper pointing on entry and aerodynamic stability during the descent. It was pre­cooled to -10 C by a system in the main module prior to separation, and operated a re-circulating fan thereafter. The capsule was intended to transmit atmospheric data


Figure 10.13 Venera 4 spacecraft, front and back views. These publicity photos do not show the thick ablative material on the entry system or the thermal blankets.


Figure 10.14 Venera 4 spacecraft diagram (from Space Travel Encyclopedia): 1. Carrier vehicle; 2. Star sensor; 3. Sun sensor; 4. Attitude control gas tanks; S. Earth sensor; fi. Magnetometer; 7. Parabolic antenna; 8. Omnidirectional spiral antennas; 9. Thermal radiator; 10. Solar panels; 11. Propulsion system; 12. Attitude control microengines; 13. Cosmic ray detector; 14. Entry vehicle.

and radar data on descent, survive the impact and make measurements on the surface. The 28 amp-hour battery, which was rechargeable by the spacecraft during the cruise, could sustain 100 minutes of independent operation. The capsule design pressure was 10 bar with a margin up to about 18 bar, and the maximum survivable temperature for the parachute was 400°C.

The Venera probes were targeted to the center of the planetary disk as seen from Earth for optimum communications directly back to home. A helical antenna on top of the descending capsule was used to direct a radiation pattern to the zenith, and the telemetry was sent at 1 bit/s on 922,8 MHz using a pair of redundant transmitters. Measurements were sent back every 48 seconds. If the capsule w’ere to splash down in an ocean, which few people believed was likely, it would float and a ‘sugar seal’ would release a semaphore signal to signify this fact.

Figure 10.15 (left) show’s the entry vehicle without its upper insulation layers. The two ports arc for testing the insulation system on this engineering model. Inside the thick, porous and lightweight ablative material is ihe descent capsule itself shown in Figure 10.15 (right). Hanging out over the side are the radio altimeter antennas that spring out when the parachute deploys. In accordance with international regulations, the capsule was sterilized prior to launch.

Five levels of redundancy w’ere provided to ensure separation from the spacecraft. First by direct command from Earth, second by the on board sequencer, third by the triggering of a G switch on atmospheric entry, fourth by a sensor activated if Earth communications were interrupted by reorientation on entry and, as a last resort, the bands attaching the capsule to the spacecraft would burn through during initial entry.

Launch mass: 1,106 kg

Entry vehicle mass: 383 kg


Figure 10.15 Venera 4 entry system and enclosed descent capsule.


Figure 10.16 Venera 4 descent capsule diagram (from Space Travel Encyclopedia): 1. Outer heat shield; 2. Structural frame; 3. Probe walls; 4. Altimeter deployment system; 5. Heat exchanger; 6. Communication antenna; 7. Altimeter antenna; 8. Avionics unit; 9. Battery; 10. Insulation; 11. Shock absorber.


Carrier spacecraft:

1. Triaxial fluxgatc magnetometer

2. Solar wind charged particle detector

3. Lyman-alpha and atomic oxygen photometers

4. Cosmic ray gas discharge and solid state detectors

It had the same instruments as the Venera 2 and 3 cruise modules, except that the cosmic ray instrument included a second gas discharge counter of a different type.

Descent I landing capsule:

1. Temperature, pressure and density sensors

2. Atmospheric chemical gas analyzers

3. Radio altimeter

4. Doppler experiment

The temperature, pressure and density sensors were the same as on Venera 3. The gas analyzers used eleven cells to measure carbon dioxide, molecular nitrogen.

molecular oxygen and water vapor. The composition was identified by how the atmosphere reacted with the material in each cell, such as by the electrical conductivity of chemically absorbing surfaces; or by reactive heated filaments; or by how the internal pressure varied with specific absorptive materials. The experiment was to take a set of readings at parachute deployment and then again 347 seconds later. The instrument wras the same as flown on Venera 3 but included a hydrometer Гог water vapor measurement. A radio altimeter was carried for the first time to obtain absolute altitudes and confirm landing on the surface. The system w:as built by the Research Institute for Space Device Engineering and adapted from one used in aircraft. To conserve bandwidth, it did not issue continuous data, but only a semaphore to indicate falling through the altitude of 26 km. The Doppler experiment required no hardware on the capsule, utilizing the frequency shift of the carrier wave of the transmitter to determine the line of sight velocity of the probe as it descended through the atmosphere.

Some of the instruments carried by previous probes had to be deleted in order to release mass for the radio altimeter and the structural strengthening. The gamma-ray instrument, wave motion sensor, and photometer were sacrificed. But, as always, it carried a medallion with the coat of arms of the USSR and a bas relief of Lenin.

Mission description:

The first spacecraft was launched successfully towards Venus on June 12. 1967, and became Venera 4. The second was stranded in parking orbit on June 17, when the fourth stage did not ignite because the turbopump had not been pre-cooled. It was named Cosmos 167 by the Soviets and re-entered 8 days later. Venera 4 performed well during cruise, reorienting itself every few days to point its high gain antenna at Earth for a communication session. A midcourse correction was made on July 29 at a range of 12 million km from Earth. It arrived at Venus on October 18 and released the entry capsule at 04:34 IJT, at which time it was 44,800 km over the night side. The carrier spacecraft sent measurements on the upper atmosphere and ionosphere until it broke up in the atmosphere. The capsule entered the atmosphere at 10.7 kiu/s and slowed through a peak deceleration of 350 G. At a pressure level of 0.6 bar and a speed of 300 m s it shed the rear cover and deployed the 2.5 square meter drogue parachute. Several seconds later it deployed the 55 square meter main parachute and radio altimeter antennas. The instruments were turned on at 55 km altitude, at w hich time the rate of descent was 10 m/s. The mechanical commutator interrogated each instrument in turn and fed the data to the transmitter. It transmitted for 93 minutes on its parachute descent before falling silent. It reached the surface at 19 N 38 E, in darkness near the morning tenninator. It was 4:40 Venus solar time and the solar zenith angle was 110 degrees. Including three intended test flights, this was the first successful Soviet planetary mission after twenty attempts, and the first successful entry probe by either spacefaring nation.

Jodrell Bank reported receiving signals from the surface, not realizing that these had been sent during the descent. Thinking the capsule had reached the surface in an


Figure 10.17 Venera 4 descent sequence (from Space Travel Encyclopedia)-. 1. Separation; 2. Unstabilized free flight; 3. Entry and stabilization; 4. Braking parachute deployed; 5. On main parachute, transmitter and altimeter on, acquiring and transmitting data on descent; 6. Surface impact, main chute release.

operational slate, the Soviets reported that it had landed. But it slowly became clear that this could not be the case. The data from Mariner 5, which flew by Venus a day after Venera 4 arrived, indicated that the surface temperature was much higher than the final measurement reported by the entry probe. A series of meetings by Soviet and American scientists conducted over the next 2 years decided that the probe had succumbed to the increasingly hostile environment and had been disabled while still far above the ground. Nevertheless, as the first mission to transmit data from within a planetary atmosphere it achieved a major scientific milestone. The data return was significant and demonstrated just how hostile was the environment of Venus. It was evident that future probes would have to be further strengthened.


During its descent the Venera 4 entry probe returned more than 23 sets of readings by the atmospheric structure experiment. They began at an altitude of 55 km, and the atmospheric temperature was measured over the entire 93 minute descent. The initial temperature was 33nC and it increased to 262nC. The initial pressure reading was 0.75 bar, and the instrument reached its limit of 7.3 bar long before the probe ceased to transmit. Using atmospheric models constructed from the data at the time, it was concluded that the signal was lost at an altitude of 24 km. Atmospheric density
was obtained by plugging the temperature and pressure data into the hydrostatic equation and the result tested against the parachute descent characteristics. Doppler data (i. e. changes in received master oscillator frequency) provided altitude profiles of wind speed and direction, both horizontal and vertical, but the measurement errors were large.

The atmospheric composition experiment showed the atmosphere to be composed mainly of carbon dioxide:

Подпись: 90 ± 10% less than 2.5% 0.4 to 1.6% 0.05 to 0.7%carbon dioxide molecular nitrogen molecular oxygen water vapor

The percentage of carbon dioxide was initially disputed because the expectation was that at least 50% of the atmosphere would be molecular nitrogen, and American scientists were skeptical. But later missions would prove Venera 4 correct. The arid nature of the atmosphere was also unexpected. The model of Venus as a watery world had to be completely scrapped.

The aircraft-derived radio altimeter was designed to send a signal semaphore at an altitude of 26 km, but it had not been adequately adapted for the Venus mission and actually sent its signal at twice that altitude, 52 km. This was a principal cause of the confusion over whether Venera 4 had reached the surface or not. Atmospheric data and Doppler measurements showed that the probe had descended through about 28 km during transmission and the altimeter semaphore indicated that the top level was 26 km. The last measured temperature of 262 C and the derived pressure of 18 bar were about what was expected at the surface at the time. However, measurements of the planet’s microwave brightness made by terrestrial radio telescopes had indicated values of about 325 C. The chemical analysis by Venera 4 showing the dominance of carbon dioxide required a reanalysis of the radio-telescope microwave brightness based on atmospheric models with less carbon dioxide. A new analysis in 1967 explained some of the unusual features of the microwave spectrum of Venus as due to carbon dioxide, and resulted in surface conditions of about 427 C and 75 bar that were inconsistent with the Venera 4 probe having reached the surface. Atmospheric models based on Mariner 5 data also showed far higher temperatures and pressures at the surface. One suggestion was that Venera 4 had landed on a large mountain, but Carl Sagan pointed out that radar studies of the planet had found no such large edifice. Extrapolation of the Venera 4 atmospheric profile indicated conditions at the surface at the impact site to be 500°C and 75 bar. Eventually the data wns reconciled by Avduevskv, Marov, and Rozhdestvensky (1969) using an adiabatic model of the Venusian atmosphere which confirmed loss of signal at 18 + 2.5 bar at an altitude of about 24 km and extrapolated conditions at the surface as 442 C and 90 bar.

The signal ceased near the pressure limit of the capsule, but it is possible that the probe exhausted its battery near the 18 bar level after 93 minutes of operation. In any case the capsule would have been crushed and thereafter the parachute would have burned, leaving the capsule to free fall to the surface.

Prior to breaking up, the main spacecraft provided the first in-situ measure­
ments of the close-in magnetic field, thermosphere, ionosphere, and solar wind interaction. In 1962 Mariner 2 had flown past Venus at 34,773 km. which was too great a range to detect a magnetic field or magnetospheric signature. Venera 4 found no intrinsic planetary magnetic Held. The low fields detected were due to interaction of the solar wind with the ionosphere. No radiation belts were found, and an extended corona of atomic hydrogen was discovered reaching 10,000 km into space from the planet.

Closeouts on a Venus spacecraft, a Moon rocket, and desperation at Mars


The year 1972 opened with the last launch of a 3MV spacecraft, Venera 8, marking the final use of the Molniya launcher for a Soviet lunar or planetary mission. Using Venera 7’s measurement of the temperature at ihe surface, and an inferred pressure, the over-engineered descent capsule was simplified to enable Venera 8 to carry more instruments. It was dispatched on March 27 and the lander operated successfully on the surface of Venus. Two other significant closeouts were in 1972, the launch of the fourth N-l rocket in November whose failure led to that project being canceled, and the final Apollo landing in December.

The second and final robotic lunar rover, Lunokhod 2, was delivered to the Moon by the Luna 21 mission in January 1973. Apart from this, the year 1973 witnessed perhaps the most frustrating campaign in the history of robotic planetary flight. The Soviets were acutely aware of US plans to launch sophisticated orbiter/landers to Mars in 1975. Encouraged by the near-success of the Mars 3 lander, they devised an audacious campaign for 1973. This opportunity was less favorable than that of 1971, which precluded sending orbiter/landers, so instead they launched four spacecraft in July and August: Mars 4 and 5 were orbiters, and Mars 6 and 7 carried landers to be released during flybys. During the development of these spacecraft, the Soviets had incorporated a new transistor into many spacecraft systems. These were discovered before launch to be faulty, with limited lifetimes due to technological “innovations’’ in their manufacture. They could not be trusted to last for the duration of the flight to Mars, yet they could not be replaced in time to achieve the launch window. It was a terrible dilemma. Rather than stand down and wait for the next Mars opportunity in 1975, when the US missions would be launched, the Soviets decided to proceed and hope that at least one of the landers would succeed. But the transistor lifetime tests proved to be accurate, and there were failures in all four spacecraft which ultimately resulted in disaster for this campaign.

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Hooks 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1 13,

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Подпись: 1972 2 Mar Pioneer 10 Jupiter flyby 27 Mar Venera 8 entry probe 31 Mar Venera entry probe 16 Apr Apollo 16 lunar landing 23 Nov N-I Moon Rocket test 7 Dec Apollo 17 lunar landing 1973 8 Jan Luna 21 rover 5 Apr Pioneer 11 Jupiter/Saturn 21 Jul Mars 4 orbiter 25 Jul Mars 5 orbiter 5 Aug Mars 6 flyby/lander 9 Aug Mars 7 flyby/lander 3 Nov Mariner 10 Venus/Mercury
Closeouts on a Venus spacecraft, a Moon rocket, and desperation at Mars
Подпись: Success, Lunokhod 2 Successful Jupiter and Saturn flybys Failed to achieve orbit, flew past Mars Completed 22 orbits, early failure Successful descent, lost at landing Entry system failed, flew past Mars Successful flybys at Venus & Mercury

Launch date

Crippled by ailing systems. Mars 4 was unable to enter Mars orbit and sailed past the planet. Mars 5 achieved orbit, but fell silent after only 22 orbits. After an early failure in its telemetry system, the Mars 6 flyby spacecraft had to be commanded in the blind. It miraculously made automated midcourse maneuvers, optical navigation on approaching Mars, and dispatched its entry system on the correct trajectory. The entry system entered the atmosphere, descended by parachute, and sent back mostly garbled data on its compromised communications system. Contact was lost when the lander was released near the surface. The Mars 7 flyby spacecraft released its entry system as planned, but this failed to function and missed the planet. The lack of any real results from this massive campaign was not explained until after the collapse of the USSR.

Meanwhile the US launched Pioneer 10 on March 2, 1972, for the first mission to the outer Solar System. It went on to make a flyby of Jupiter, the largest of planets. In November 1973 Mariner 10 was launched lo use a flyby of Venus for a gravily – assist to reach Mercury. *And Pioneer 11, launched in April 1973, went on to use this same technique at Jupiter lo reach Saturn.

Mars-96 campaign objectives

The Mars-96 mission was designed to use an orbiter, two small soft landers, and two penetrators to undertake a comprehensive investigation of the current state and past evolution of Mars by studying physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere, on the surface, and in the interior.

The scientific objectives of the orbiter included obtaining high resolution mapping and spectral imagery of the surface to study its geology, mineralogy and topography, to investigate the gravity field and crustal structure, and to monitor the climate. The spacecraft was also equipped to study the magnetic field, plasma characteristics, and magnetospheric structure. And it had instruments for astrophysieal investigations of gamma-ray bursts, and both stellar and solar oscillations. The penetrators were to obtain images of the surface, undertake meteorological measurements, examine the physical, chemical, magnetic, and mechanical properties of the near-surface regolith. measure the water content of the soil, and measure seismic activity and the heat flow7 from the interior of the planet through the crust. The small landers were to study the vertical structure of the atmosphere and obtain images during the descent to assist in interpreting images taken on the surface, measure elemental, magnetic and oxidant composition of the soil, measure seismic activity, and monitor the local weather for its diurnal, seasonal, and annual variability.

The delays and problems w ith development had been extremely frustrating for the international participants, whose own budgets and schedules were heavily impacted. The failure of the launch and breakup of the spacecraft over the west coast of South America was the final straw for a Russian planetary exploration program that had been struggling against diminishing resources since the Phobos failures in 1988 1989 and the demise of the Soviet bmpire in 1991.

The failures of the Phobos and Mars-96 missions were a heavy loss for planetary exploration. They w’ere ambitious and complex missions aimed at comprehensively studying Mars and the larger of its two moons. They had more engineering systems, more observation platforms, more scientific instrumentation, and more subsidiary
vehicles than any other missions in the history of planetary exploration. The array of measurements they were to have made was simply enormous. If these missions had been successful, the knowledge produced would have been astounding. They were also very international, complex, and expensive. They are missions the like of which will not be experienced in planetary exploration for a long time to come.



The Mars-96 orbiter was a З-axis stabilized spacecraft based on the Phobos design. A pressurized toroid at the base held the computer and most of the avionics, thermal regulation, communications, batteries and electronics for scientific instruments. The equipment tower was replaced with a flat deck on which equipment and instruments were mounted, including the solar panels and the entry systems for the two landers. The solar panels were larger, and extended out from opposite sides of the deck. They also carried low gain antennas and attitude control nozzles. Many subsystems and scientific apparatus were on the toroid below7 the deck level, including a pair of scan platforms for accurate and stable pointing of cameras and spectrometers. The high gain dish antenna extended off one side of the toroid, oriented perpendicular to the solar panels, and the medium gain antenna w7as on the opposite side. In this case the high gain was not steerable, and provided a communications rate of 130 kbits/s. The thermal control radiators, navigation and Sun and star sensors for the attitude control system were attached to the toroid, including the onboard propulsion system with its propellant tanks and thrusters, as for the Phobos spacecraft. The separable ADU propulsion system (now7 named the Fregat stage) was attached underneath, as before. The two penetrators were mounted on the ADU propellant tanks. The computers were more advanced and supplied by the Europeans who did not trust the Phobos computers after their poor performance. The orbiter carried more than two dozen instruments in addition to the landers and penetrators. Owing to the massive weight of the spacecraft, the Proton could not quite provide sufficient energy for the escape maneuver. After the Block D had released the spacecraft, the Fregat would fire to provide the final increment. The Fregat would perform the midcourse corrections, orbit insertion at Mars, and in-orbit maneuvers before being jettisoned.

Scan platforms were fairly new7 to Russian spacecraft. The 220.7 kg TPS 3-axis platform had its own computer control system, memory, thermal control, navigation camera, and a 53.5 kg payload of remote sensing instruments. The developers had difficulty achieving the stringent pointing and stability requirements, and when the Russians suggested deleting the platform and mounting the instruments on the body of the spacecraft, w hich would have severely limited the science objectives, German engineers were brought in to help to resolve the problems. The 74.2 kg PAIS 2-axis scan platform was simpler, and it carried instruments that had less stringent pointing requirements. The orbiter was to have deployed its landers on approach and then
performed a deflection maneuver to reach the insertion point, whereupon it would put itself into an elliptical orbit. This would be shaped over the first month using several maneuvers to achieve an orbit in which the spacecraft would make four revolutions around the planet while Mars rotated seven times on its axis, because such orbits arc generally quite stable. Once it had achieved an orbit with a periapsis of 300 km and a period of 43.09 hours, it would deploy the penelrators.

The Mars-96 spacecraft was 3.5 meters tall and 2,7 meters wide; 11.5 meters wide with its solar panels deployed.

Подпись: Launch mass: Orbiter dry mass: Penetrators: Landers: Attachment structure: AD V dry mass:


6,824 kg 2,614 kg 176 kg (2)

241 kg (2)

283 kg (for landers and penetrators) 490 kg

Fuel: 2,832 kg

Hydrazine: 188 kg


The two landers or ‘small stations’ were similar to those used on the M-71 and M-73 missions but much smaller. They were about the same size as, but lighter than those of Luna 9 and 13. Each lander was approximately 60 cm in diameter and, including the 8 kg payload, was 30.6 kg. For entry, each was contained within a blurt-ended conical ablative aeroshell approximately 1 meter in diameter (Figure 20.3). The total mass of the lander and its entry system was 120.5 kg. Separation was to occur 4 or 5 days prior to orbit insertion, after being given a spin of 12 revolutions per minute for stability. Entry would begin at an altitude of about 100 km at 5.75 km/s and an angle of 11 to 21 degrees. After about 3 minutes, at an altitude in the range 19 to 44 km and a velocity of 200 to 320 m s. the parachute w’ould deploy. The aeroshell would be jettisoned 10 seconds later, and a 130 meter harness would unreel the lander. At about 18 to 4 km and a velocity of 20 to 40 m/s an airbag would inflate around the lander. This was designed to survive an impact at vertical and horizontal rates of about 20 m/s. Immediately upon contact after a descent lasting anything from 6 to 17 minutes, the lander would discard its parachute, and after rolling to a stop the airbag


Figure 20.2 Mars-96 spacecraft line drawing (courtesy NPO-Lavochkin).


Figure 20.3 Mars-96 on the integration and test stand.

would split open at the seam and he discarded. In a manner similar to the Mars 3 lander four triangular petals would open, each extending about 30 cm from the central base. Three of these petals had springs to deploy instruments away from the lander.

On the surface the lander would draw power from two coffee-cup-sized 220 mW RTGs, a technology that had not previously been used in a Soviet mission but was intended for the rovers, supplemented by NiCd batteries. A lithium battery was used for the descent phase. The uplink and downlink at 2 and 8 kbits/s would use a UHF relay through the orbiter. There was no command capability; downlink was only to initiate transmission. The internal temperature of the lander would be maintained by a combination of insulation and heat from the RTGs and dedicated RHUs; 8.5 W of heater power was available. The expected operating life was about a local year.

In addition to the scientific payload, the landers carried a compact disk provided by The Planetary Society entitled ‘Visions of Mars’ which contained a compendium of knowledge about Mars.

Entry mass: 120.5 kg

Lander mass: 30.6 kg

Payload: 8 kg (~ 5 kg of science)

Mars-96 campaign objectives



Figure 20.4 Small lander entry, descent and landing.




Figure 20.5 ‘Small Station’ lander.


Подпись: jJHf

Figure 20.6 Test lander in a ‘sandbox’.




Figure 20.7 Mars-96 penetrators in flight (left) and deployed (right). Penetrators:

The penetrators were cylinders 2 meters long with a pointed 12 ail diameter fore­body and a 17 cm diameter after-body that included a funnel-shaped tail section that broadened to 78 cm diameter. They drew power from a 0.5 W RTG and a 150 watt- hour lithium battery. A total of 4.5 kg of science instruments were distributed in the two sections. Each penetrator was to be released from orbit near apoapsis by pointing the spacecraft in the proper direction and spinning the entry system to 75 revolutions per minute for stabilization prior to release. At a safe distance the orbiter was to make a small diversion maneuver. The penetrator would then fire a solid rocket to reduce its velocity by 30 m/s, jettison this de-orbit motor, and inflate the ballute that was to decelerate the initial phase of its entry when it fell into the atmosphere about 21.5 hours later. Entry would be at a speed of 4.6 to 4.9 km/s and an angle of 12 degrees.

The penetrator would be slowed aerodynamically, then inflate an extension to the ballute in the after-body (Figure 20.8). After a 6 minute descent, it would hit the

i – Separation horn
the spacecraft



2. Transfer to the

descent trajectory

i. Initiating inflation M’ of brakititr device J

4. r. ntry into the

5. Descent through

the atmosphere

6. Contact with the surface

7. Подпись: 8. Carrying out scientific experimentsPenetration and separation of two petretrator pans

Figure 20.8 Penetrator entry, descent and landing scheme.

surface at about 75 m/s. The 500 G shock was to be cushioned by a fluid reservoir. The wide after-body was designed to stop at the surface as the fore-bod у separated and penetrated up to 6 meters into the ground, remaining attached by a coiled wire. The aft mast with the antenna, camera, magnetometer, and mcteorologieal sensors was then to extend, and thermal probes would protrude into the soil.

One penetrator was to be sent to a site near one of the landers, and the other to a location at least 90 degrees away to facilitate the triangulation of seismic signals. Communications at 8 kbits/s would be feasible for about 5 to 6 minutes every 7 days through the transmitter on the after-body and would use the relay through the orbiter for uplink and downlink. The expected lifetime was a local year.

Penetrator mass w і engine: 88 kg

Entry mass: 45 kg

Science payload: 4.5 kg


Or hi ter:

The orbiter had twelve instruments to study the surface and atmosphere of Mars, seven instruments for plasma, fields, particles and ionospheric composition, and five instruments for solar and asirophysical research. And radio occultalions during limb crossings would give data about the atmosphere. The instruments were on the sides of the spacecraft, on one or other of the two scan platforms, and on the solar panels. The three optical instruments of the ARGOS package were on the З-axis I PS scan platform along with the navigation camera, and the SPICAM, EVRIS and PHOTON instruments were on the simpler 2-axis PAIS scan platform.

Remote sensing of the surface and atmosphere:

1. Multifunctional stereoscopic high resolution TV camera (ARGOS HRSC. Germany-Russia)

2. Wide-angle stereoscopic TV camera (ARGOS WAOSS, Germany-Russia)

3. Visible and infrared mapping spectrometer (ARGOS OMEGA, Eranee – Russia-Italy)

4. Planetary infrared Fourier spectrometer (PFS, Italy-Russia-Poland-France – Germany-Spain)

5. Mapping radiometer (TERMOSKAN, Russia)

6. High resolution mapping spectrophotometer (SVET, Russia-USA)

7. Multi-channel optical spectrometer (SPICAM, Belgium-France-Russia)

8. Ultraviolet spectrophotometer (UVS-M, Russia-Germany-France)

9. Long wave radar (LWR, Russia-Cermany-USA-Austria)

10. Gamma-ray spectrometer (PHOTON, Russia)

11. Neutron spectrometer (NElJ I RON-S, Russia)

12. Quadrupole mass spectrometer (MAK, Russia-Finland)

The West Germans supplied the 21.4 kg high resolution HRSC camera and the hast Germans the 8.4 kg wide angle WAOSS camera. After the reunification of that nation the instruments were combined into a single project. Each was a push-broom scanner using parallel linear arrays of 5,184 pixel CCDs. The narrow angle camera had nine arrays for multispectrak photometric, and stereoscopic imaging. The wide angle camera had three arrays for stereoscopic imaging. The best resolution would be 12 meters for the narrow angle camera and 100 meters for the wide angle camera. Because the altitude and velocity of the spacecraft would vary during the periapsis encounters in an elliptical orbit, the CCD integration times could be tailored over the long scans. The cameras on the TPS platform had an extensive 25.3 kg MORION-S onboard processing unit which incorporated a 21 kg solid-state memory system built in cooperation with ESA with a capacity of 1.5 gigabits to reduce the transmission requirements. These data acquisition resources were shared with other instruments. Also on the TPS platform was the 23.7 kg OMEGA visible and infrared mapping spectrometer to measure atmospheric composition and map surface composition.

The 28 kg TERMOSKAK instrument from Phobos was re-flown to measure the thermal properties of the regolilh. The 12 kg SVET mapping spectrophotometer was to analyze the spectrum of the surface and aerosols. The 20 kg PHOTON gamma – ray spectrometer would map the elemental composition of the surface, and the 8 kg NEUTRON-S neutron spectrometer would determine ice and water abundances. The 35 kg LWR would probe the near-surface layer to measure vertical structure and ice deposits. The 25.6 kg PES was to make atmospheric profiles of carbon dioxide, and measure atmospheric temperatures, winds, and aerosols. The 46 kg SPICAM would use solar and stellar occultations to produce vertical profiles of water vapor, ozone, oxygen, and carbon monoxide. The 9.5 kg UVS-M was to map atomic hydrogen, deuterium, oxygen and helium in the upper atmosphere of Mars and the interstellar medium. The 10 kg MAK mass spectrometer was to measure the composition and distribution of ions and neutrals in the upper atmosphere.

Space plasma and ionosphere:

1. Energy-mass ion spectrograph and neutral particle imager (ASPERA-C. Sweden-Russia-Finland-Poland-USA-Norway-Germany).

2. Fast omni-directional non-scanning energy-mass ion analyzer (EON EM A. UK-Russia-Czech Republic-France-Ireland).

3. Omnidirectional ionospheric energy-mass-spectrometer (DYMIO, France – Russia-Cermany-USA).

4. Ionospheric plasma spectrometers (MARIPROB, Austria-Belgium-Bulgaria – Czech Republic-Germany-Hungary-1 reland-Russia-USA).

5. Electron analyzer and magnetometer (MAREMF. Austria-Belgium-France – Germany-Great Britain-Hungary-Ireland-Russia-USA).

6. Plasma wave instrument (ELISMA, France-Bulgaria-Great Britain-ESA – Poland-Russia – Ukraine).

7. Low-energy charged particle spectrometer (SLED-2, Ircland-Czcch Repub – lic-Cermany-IIungary-Russia-Slovakia).

The 12.2 kg ASPERA instrument was to measure the energy distribution of ions and fast neutrals. The 10.7 kg EON EM A ion analy/er would measure the dynamics and structure of the upper atmosphere plasma. The 7.9 kg MARIPROB and 7.2 kg DYMIO instruments would complement these instruments. The 12.2 kg MAREMF instrument would analyze plasma electrons and it carried two lluxgate magnetometers to measure magnetic fields in interplanetary space and in orbit of Mars. The 12 kg EL-ISM A instrument was to measure plasma waves in the Martian environment. It consisted of three Langmuir probes and three search coil magnetometers. In addition to probing the surface of the planet the LWR radar was also to be used to measure the distribution of electrons in the ionosphere and how this interacted with the solar wind. The 3.3 kg SLED-2 instrument was to measure low energy cosmic rays during the interplanetary cruise and in the Mars environment.

Solar physics and astrophysics:

1. Precision gannna-ray spectrometer (PCS, Russia-USA).

2. Cosmic and solar gannna-ray burst spectrometer (LILAS-2, Russia-France).

3. Stellar oscillations photometer (EVRIS, France-Russia-Austria)

4. Solar oscillation photometer (SOYA. Ukraine-Russia-France-Switzerland)

5. Radiation dosage monitor (RADIUS-M, Russia-Bulgaria-Greece-USA – France-Czech Republic-Slovakia)

The 25.6 kg PCS gamma-ray spectrometer was intended to examine solar flares during the interplanetary cruise and then measure gannna-ray emission when in orbit around Mars. The 5 kg LILAS-2 instrument would locate celestial gamma-ray bursts in conjunction w’ith several spacecraft in Earth orbit and Ulysses in deep space. The celestial sources were also to be examined by using Mars occultation observations. The 1 kg SOYA and 7.4 kg EVRIS photometers were to make helioseismology and astroseismology measurements respectively. SOYA was body mounted but EVRIS was on the 2-axis scan platform. The RADIUS-M radiation dosimeter was carried to obtain data pertinent to prospective future human Mars missions.


Entry and descent:

1. Descent imager (DESCAM, France-Finland-Russia)

2. Three-axis accelerometer plus sensors for temperature and pressure (DPT Russia)

The lander had a suite of sensors and a descent imager. DESCAM was mounted on the bottom of the lander to obtain imagery to provide context for the panorama that would be taken following landing. It had a 400 x 500 pixel CCD and was to be detached 2 minutes after landing, just before the airbag was discarded. The DPI had an accelerometer and temperature and pressure sensors to provide vertical profiles of temperature, pressure and density during entry and descent, and the dynamics of the landing. It was mounted outside the lander bay under one of the petal covers, so that descent data was convoluted with flow dynamics during descent.


1. Panoramic camera on a central mast (PANCAM. Russia-France-Finland)

2. Meteorology instrument system on a 1-meter tall mast for temperature, pressure, humidity, wind, and optical depth (MIS, Finland-France-Russia)

3. Seismometer, magnetometer and inclinometer (OPTIMISM, Francc-Ger – many – Russia)

4. Alpha, proton and x-ray spectrometer for soil elemental analysis (APX. Germany-Russia-USA)

5. Oxidant sensor (MOX, USA-Russia)

At the top of the station shell, the lander carried a PANCAM scanning photometer camera similar to those on the earlier Mars landers to provide a 360 x 60 degree panorama composed of 6,000 x 1,024 pixels. A deployable overhead mast supported the MIS meteorology package with sensors for temperature, pressure and humidity, an ion anemometer for wind, plus an optical-depth sensor. The ODS optical sensor in this package was supplied by the French and measured direct Sun and scattered light at the zenith in three narrow bands at 270, 350. and 550 nm, and one broad band from 250 to 750 nm. The DPI package measured temperatures and wind velocities on the surface. Three of the petals contained instruments for deployment to the surface: the OPTIMISM instrument containing a seismometer, inclinometer and З-axis lluxgate magnetometer; the APX backseat ter analyzer to determine elemental abundances in the soil; and the MOX experiment. The latter was a colorimetric soil analyzer that had reactant spots sensitive to different types of oxidants. Supplied by the IJS it was developed in less than a year, weighed only 0.Я5 kg, and had its own power supply and data storage. Its function was to test the inference from the Viking landers that the soil was rich in oxidants and hence inimical to life.


After-body above surface:

1. Television Camera (TVS, Russia)

2. Meteorological sensors for temperature, pressure, humidity, wind and opacity (MEKOM, Russia-Finland-USA)

3. Magnetometer (IMAP-6, Russia-Bulgaria)

After-body below surface:

1. Gamma-ray spectrometer for soil analysis (PEGAS, Russia)

2. Temperature sensor for heat flow (TERMOZOND Part 1, Russia)


1. Seismometer for interior structure (KAMERTON, Russia-Great Britain)

2. Accelerometers for soil mechanics (GRUNT, UK-Russia)

3. Temperature sensor for heat flow (TERMOZOND Part 2, Russia)

4. Neutron detector for water detection (NEUTRON-P, Russia)

5. Alpha-proton spectrometer for soil analysis (ALPHA, Russia-Cermany)

6. X-ray fluorescence spectrometer for soil analysis (ANGSTREM, Russia)

The GRUNT accelerometer in the fore-body was to measure the properties of the surface during impact and penetration. The KAMERTON seismometer would search for Martian activity. The TERMOZOND thermal probes would measure heat flowr and provide data for thermal diffusivity and heat capacity. The gamma – ray, alpha, proton, neutron, and x-ray spectrometers would analyze the soil chemistry including its water content. Remaining above the surface on the after­body, the TVS 2,048 pixel linear camera would take a panoramic image of the site, the MEKOM package would monitor the temperatures and winds, and the IMAP-6 magnetometer would measure the local magnetic field.

Mission description:

Mars-96 was to have arrived at Mars in September 1997 on a direct trajectory about 10 months after launch. The small surface stations were to have been released 4 or 5 days out from the planet for direct atmospheric entry. The spacecraft would execute a deflection maneuver for its orbital insertion point. By this time the Mars ephemeris was very well know7n, so the complex optical navigation and close-in release of the M-71 and M-73 missions was not required. Three landing sites were selected for the landers, the two primary ones being at 41.31CN 153.77:W in Arcadia and at 32.48CN 163.32;W in Amazonia, with the backup at 3.65:,N 193 W.

At insertion the spacecraft would perform a braking maneuver into an initial orbit of 500 x 52,000 km, and this would be reduced in stages to a 43.09 hour 7:4 Mars synchronous orbit at 106.4 degrees inclination with a 300 km periapsis.

The two penetrators were to have been deployed within 7 to 28 days, one targeted for Arcadia and the other at least 90 degrees away in Utopia Planitia to provide a good baseline for seismometry. The Eregat would be jettisoned after the deployment of the penetrators. Orbit maintenance would then be the task of the smaller onboard propulsion system.

At the start of the orbital mission communications sessions with the landers and penetrators were expected to be through the orbiter approximately once per day for 20 minutes each. One small orbit correction of about 1 to 2 m s w ould be required each month to maintain visibility with the surface elements, w’hose nominal lifetime was to have been one local year or roughly two terrestrial years.

The spacecraft was launched on the optimal day of the window’, November 16, 1996, and reached Earth orbit after the first firing of the Block D. If this stage had fired properly to initiate the escape maneuver, the Eregat propulsion system on the spacecraft would have provided the final increment required to reach Mars. It seems that cither the Block D-2 did not fire or it shut down after only 20 seconds, perhaps owing to an inappropriate command from the spacecraft, which was in control of it. The logic of the situation then caused the spacecraft to separate and fire its Hregat as if to complete the escape maneuver. However, this burn left it in an 87 x 1.500 km elliptical orbit. With its periapsis inside the atmosphere the spacecraft was doomed. The Block D-2 stage entered the atmosphere at some time between 00:45 to 01:30 IJT on November 17 and crashed into the Pacific between the Chilean coast and Easter Island. A day later, the spacecraft was spotted re-entering the atmosphere as a fireball over southern Chile, and is believed to have crashed in the Andes mountains of Chile near the border with Bolivia. It was carrying 270 grams of plutonium-238 in 18 pellets as part of the landers and pcnctrators. Designed to withstand heat and impact, these probably survived re-entry. Searches were made but the spacecraft was never found.

The failure occurred at the second ignition of the Block D-2 upper stage w hile the spacecraft was out of range of Russian ground stations. Owning to budget limitations the Russians had no tracking ships in the Pacific. The lack of telemetry data during critical parts of the escape phase of the mission precluded identification of the cause of the failure, and in particular w hether it w as due to failure of the Block D-2 upper stage or to a malfunction of the controlling spacecraft. It was an abysmal situation.



Key players


Any great enterprise is the product of people. It is people who make things happen. Institutions are the means by which great enterprises are realized, but it is the people in these institutions, and in particular the leaders of these institutions, that drive the mechanisms to create great products. And so it is in the space exploration enterprise. We begin the story of the Soviet Union’s space exploration program in the 20th Century with a description of the people who led the development of this great enterprise. While there were many administrators, engineers and scientists who were essential, we have room here only to describe those at the top of the enterprise, those whose personal and institutional power created the USSR’s space program. At the top are the Communist Party leaders and government ministers who had control over selecting and funding national projects; second, and most particularly, the individual Chief Designers of the space program who proposed the projects; third the directors of the design bureaus which were responsible for building rockets and spacecraft for the projects; and finally the President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences, who besides his own leadership of the space program provided academic resources via the directors of the Academy’s research institutes where space mission goals were developed using the rockets and spacecraft built by the design bureaus.

The single most important individual in the development of the Soviet space program after WW-II was Sergey Pavlovich Korolev. After. Toseph Stalin decided to make rocket development a national priority at the end of the war, Korolev was retrieved from exile in a labor camp, together with others from his small band of engineers that built research rockets before the war. They started with the V-2 and a group of captured German engineers, just as occurred in the US. During the 1940s and 1950s Korolev’s design bureau developed the USSR’s first long range rockets using the German rocket engineers’ expertise to build their own design skills. By the mid-1950s the German engineers had been generally dismissed, and the enterprise was entirely Russian. Korolev began testing his R-7 ICBM in the spring of 1957, the rocket that would launch not only Sputnik and other early Earth satellites, but

W. T. Huntress and M. Y. Marov, Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies 5

and Discoveries, Springer Praxis Books 1, DOl 10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1_2,

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

almost all of the Soviet lunar and planetary missions throughout the 1960s and all Soviet cosmonauts, in upgraded and modified versions, this venerable rocket has become the core of the Soyuz launcher that is used commercially today for both manned and unmanned missions.

Korolev was an excellent engineer and designer, with considerable leadership and political skills. These qualities and his mission successes made him the darling of the Soviet space program. His identity was kept secret and he became known as ‘Chief Designer’, a term invented for the titular head of the Soviet space program. There were only two others that followed him after his death in 1966, but neither man had the full measure of qualities possessed by Korolev and the program seemed to lose much of its driving force. Had Korolev remained in charge, the USSR may have landed a cosmonaut on the Moon – even if later than planned and after the Americans. The Chief Designer of the Soviet space program, the de-facto leader inside Kremlin circles, was at the same time a director of one of the implementing design bureaus. There was no equivalent in the US: Wernher von Braun had a similar leadership role but was not at the same time the Administrator of NASA. In the USSR, there was no equivalent of NASA. The space enterprise was only a portion of the government’s Ministry of General Machine Building, which had wide control over all of Soviet space industry and the design bureaus that implemented the policies of the ministry.

The design bureaus and research institutes were the places where all the hardware


Figure 2.1 Korolev’s Council of Chief Designers in 1959. Left to right: A. F. Bogomolov, M. S. Ryazansky, N. A. Pilyugin. S. P. Korolev, V. F. Glushko, V. P. Barmin, Y. I. Kuznetsov.

was developed and built to execute the Soviet space program, except for the science instruments supplied by the Soviet Academy of Seiences. The directors, also known as ‘Chief Designers’, of the several design bureaus and research institutes were the key ‘movers and shakers’ of the program. At the beginning of the Soviet rocket and space enterprise, Korolev established a Council of Chief Designers to coordinate all efforts in rocket development and space exploration. The members of the Council are shown in Figure 2.1. Council member Academician Valentin Petrovich Glushko (1908-1989) was an early colleague of Korolev’s before WW-II and supplied the rocket engines for the R-7, but later he became a dedicated rival to Korolev. He was one of the most important figures in the history of the Soviet program, and his role following Korolev’s death is described later in this chapter. Academician Nikolay Alexeevich Pilyugin (1908-1982) was Chief Designer of МІР and responsible for autonomous control systems (avionics) for rockets and spacecraft. Pilyugin was one of Korolev’s closest colleagues and pioneered the development of flight computers and precision avionics for autonomous navigation. Corresponding member Mikhail Sergeevich Ryazansky (1909 1987) was Director and Chief Designer of N11-885 and developed radio systems including on board transmitters, receivers, radio command links and terrestrial antennas for rockets and deep space missions. In particular, he pioneered the study of radio systems to facilitate autonomous navigation by vehicles in deep space and the development of imaging systems for spacecraft. Academician Alexey Fedorovich Bogomolov (1913 2009) w’as Director of Design Bureau OKB МЫ (until 1989) and principally responsible for the development of on board radio telemetry and trajectory tracking, in addition to terrestrial antennas for rockets and spacecraft. He also greatly contributed to radar remote-sensing techniques including the instrument Гог mapping of Venus by Venera 15 and 16. Academician Vladimir Pavlovich Barmin (1909 1993) was Chief Designer of all ground complexes for ballistic missiles and space launchers. He also contributed to the development of soil – sample devices for Luna and Venera missions. Academician Victor Ivanovich Kuznetsov (1913 1991) w as Chief Designer and Director of N11-10, and as such he developed gyroscopes for rockets and spacecraft and pioneered inertial navigation systems in the USSR.

The design bureaus were all in competition with one another. One or the other of the directors, such as Korolev, was by force of personality and political connection the LChief Designer’ of the whole space program. With no dedicated governmental space administration to marshal the competition between design bureaus, the Soviet space program was rife with rivalry, animosity and political intrigue. The resulting inefficiencies were wasteful of resources and a cause for much delay and many a failure. After Korolev died, there was no one with all the personal skills necessary to hold it all in check.

Almost equivalent in stature to Korolev was Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh, head of the Institute of Applied Mathematics and after 1961 President of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. While Korolev w as the ‘Chief Designer’ of the Soviet space program, Keldysh was ‘Chief Theoretician’. They worked together both to advocate and implement the space exploration program. From 1956 until his death in 1978. Keldysh was the Chair of the highly recognized In ter-Departmental Scientific and


Figure 2.2 Sergey Pavlovich Korolev (left) and Mstislav Vsevolodovich Keldysh (right).

Technical Council on Space Research (MNTS KI; Mezhduvcdomstvennyi Nauchno-Tekhnicheskii Soviet po Kosmicheskim Issledovaniyam) which was responsible for space science and technology development in the Soviet Union. The Council and the Academy determined the objectives for the space program, advised the government and recommended individual projects, provided expertise in space navigation, and supplied scientific investigations for flight missions. Acting together, Korolev and Keldysh were responsible for many of the achievements of the space program.

The final highly influential group were the directors of research institutes of the Soviet Academy of Sciences. The two leading space science organizations were the Vernadsky Institute of Geochemistry and Analytical Chemistry established in 1947 and the Institute for Space Research set up in 1965. The Academy’s science institutes devised the science objectives and instruments for space missions. The leading design bureau and science institute directors were strong individuals who advised Korolev and Keldysh on which missions to fly and determined what science investigations would be carried.

.Minister 9


The UR-500 Proton launcher was initially developed as an ICBM to carry heavier warheads over longer ranges than the R-7. By 1961 Vladimir Chelomey’s OKB-52 had developed a practical storable propellant fast-response ICBM for the military and Korolev’s R-7 had become a space launcher, so Khrushchev naturally enlisted Chelomey to build the larger rocket to deliver the new H-bomb. Chelomey’s answer was the Universal Rocket 500, or UR-500. However, as with fission devices, the Soviets soon learned how to make much lighter thermonuclear devices and the UR – 500 was canceled by the military. Chelomey convinced the government that his rocket, augmented with an upper stage, eould send cosmonauts on direct flights to the Moon for circumlunar missions. At that time, Korolev was envisaging achieving this by two launches and an Earth orbital rendezvous. Chelomey’s scheme would be simpler. lie succeeded in wresting the circumlunar project from OKB-1 and kept the UR-500 program alive with support from Keldysh, who wisely recognized that such a booster would have many important applications. In 1965 Korolev succeeded in regaining the spacecraft and fourth stage combination for the circumlunar project, his reasoning being that Chelomey had never built a spacecraft and OKB-1 already had one in production. The mission would use Chelomey’s booster but with the fifth stage from Korolev’s N-l rocket serving as its fourth stage. For use on the Proton stack, the N-l s Block D guidance package was removed and this function had to be provided by the spacecraft.

The three stages of the UR-500 were all powered by engines that burned nitrogen tetroxide and IJDMH. a combination despised by Korolev. The first stage had six highly advanced and very efficient closed-cycle RD-253 engines made by Korolev’s nemesis. Valentin Glushko in OKB-456. The second and third stages were powered by engines built by Kosberg s OKB-154. A feature of the first stage s design is that the UDMH is contained in six tanks arranged around the larger central oxidizer tank. This unique design was imposed by width limitations of the railway system, which precluded vehicle widths greater than 4.1 meters. The various tanks were therefore delivered separately and assembled at the launch site. A specialised rail transporter then took the completed vehicle to the pad.

The UR-500 began Hying only four years after being commissioned, and showed immediate promise with a two-stage version on July 16, 1965. successfully placing into orbit a very heavy Proton satellite to study cosmic rays; hence its popular name. The fifth launch on March 10, 1967. was the first for the four-stage IJR-500K. also know n as the Proton-K. This had Korolev s restartable Block D upper stage, w hich used his preferred propellants of kerosene and LOX. The payload w as the first in the



Figure 4.6 Soyuz (similar to Molniya) and Proton-K Zond launchers to the same scale (from Peter Gorin in Siddiqi 2000).


series of tests of the lunar Soyuz, disguised hy the name Zond, and was considered a success. The power of the Proton-K was irresistible for lunar and planetary missions, and it replaced the Molniya for lunar and Mars missions in 1969 and Venus missions in 1975. It became the workhorse for lunar and planetary missions in the 1970s and continued into the 1990s. Being much more powerful than the Molniya it facilitated much heavier and more sophisticated lunar and planetary spacecraft. Its lift capacity made possible such missions as lunar rovers, lunar sample returns, and soft landing missions on Mars and Venus. It was used for Zond 4 to 8, Luna 15 to 24, Mars 2 to 7, Venera 9 to 16, Vega 1 and 2, Phobos 1 and 2, and Mars-96. Several versions of the Block D fourth stage were developed for the Proton-K. The original was used for Luna 15 to 23, Zond 4 to 8, Mars 2 to 7 and Venera 9 and 10; the D-l version was used for Luna 24, Venera 11 to 16 and Vega 1 and 2; and the D-2 was employed for Phobos 1 and 2 and Mars-96. In all these missions, the spacecraft was required to supply guidance for the Block D stage.

One of the glaring reasons for so many failures in Luna, Zond, Venera and Mars missions in the late 60s and early 70s wns poor performance of the Proton vehicle. Succeeding in its initial launch and in two of its next three launches in 1965-66, its initial performance appeared promising. But its record in the 3 years from March 1967 to February 1970 was abysmal. Ten of nineteen spacecraft were lost w’hen the Proton failed to deliver the Block D to Earth orbit. Another three achieved orbit but were stranded when the second burn of the Block D failed. Only six of the nineteen launches were fully successful. Sixteen were interplanetary, and the Proton failed in eleven cases – four failures out of eight Zond launches to the Moon, five failures out of six Luna launches, and the failure of both Mars launches in 1969. Unfortunately, the failures were distributed throughout the vehicle including all stages, so it was very difficult to make the vehicle reliable.

NPO-Lavochkin was so concerned at the Proton failures that General Designer Gcorgi Babakin met with the Minister of General Machine Building in March 1970 to demand action. *Aftcr the rocket underwent a full engineering review a number of improvements were made, and the vehicle was re-qualificd in a successful test flight in August 1970. After this, the success record improved dramatically and eventually the Proton became one of the most reliable workhorses in the Soviet launcher fleet. Indeed, it today enjoys an excellent reputation and a large share of the commercial launch market.


Figure 4.7 Transport and erection of the Mars-96 Proton-K vehicle.



The N-l launcher was the Soviet counterpart to the Saturn V, and was developed for the same role. It had five stages, stood 105 meters tall, weighed 3,025 metric tons at launch and could place 95 metric tons in low Earth orbit. In contrast, the Saturn V


Figure 4.9 First N-l test vehicle in assembly (left) and on rollout (right).

had four stages (treating the Apollo lunar module as equivalent to N-l’s fifth stage in the powered descent phase of the mission profile), stood 110 meters tall, weighed 3,0.19 metric tons at launch and could place 119 metric tons in low Earth orbit.

The first stage of the N-l had 30 NK-33 non-gimbaled 1.51 MN engines arranged in concentric rings with 24 around the outer ring and 6 around the inner. Large graphite vanes mounted on four of the outer ring engines provided thrust vectoring. If one of the engines malfunctioned, both it and the one diametrically opposite had to be shut down. The second stage had eight NK-43 1.76 MN engines, and the third stage had four NK-39 0.4 MN engines. The first three stages were to insert the fourth and fifth stages into low’ Earth orbit. At the appropriate time the fourth stage, powered by four NK-31 0.4 MN engines, would send the fifth stage, incorporating the orbiter/lander. towards the Moon. The LNK’ engines were made by OKB-276, headed by Nikolai Dmitriyevich Kuznetsov, and used a LOX-kerosene combination. The fifth stage was the Block D which Korolev adapted to serve as the fourth stage of the Proton-K. It was powered by a single Melnikov RD-58 engine that also used LOX-kerosene, and was to perform midcourse maneuvers, lunar orbit insertion and the majority of the powered descent, being discarded in the final phase to enable the lander to use its own engine to perform the soft landing.

The N-l failed test flights in February and July of 1969, in the latter case with a spectacular explosion at liftoff that dashed Soviet hopes of competing with the US Apollo program. The N-1 had another test flight in 1971 and a final test in 1972. The


Figure 4.10 N-l oil the pud just prior to hituieh.

first stage failed each time and the project was abandoned. Its Achilles’ heel was the large number of engines that all had to work without adversely affecting the others. Remarkably, there were no static test firings. The launch attempts in 1969 carried an automated form of the Soyuz 7K-LI drcumlnnar spacecraft and a dummy LK lunar lander. The launches in 1972 carried an automated Soyuz 7K-LOK lunar orbiter and dummy LK lunar lander. The only successful result was proof that the escape rocket could pull the crew module clear of the exploding rocket.


Campaign objectives:

Korolev’s second step after demonstrating the ability to hit the Moon was to obtain photographs of its far side, which can never be observed from Earth. The Television

Scientific Research Institute developed a camera for the mission; a facsimile system using film developed on hoard and scanned by a photometer for transmission. The camera was fixed and had to be pointed at the Moon by appropriately orienting and stabilizing the spacecraft, which required a З-axis pointing and control system rather than the spin stabilization used by the Ye-1 spacecraft. The Ye-2 would be the first to accomplish this vital mode of attitude control. In addition, the spacecraft had to be placed onto a trajectory that would enable it to view the far side of the Moon from a close range and under suitable illumination, and then return to the vicinity of Earth in order to transmit its pictures.

Spacecraft launched

First spacecraft:

Luna 3 (Ye-2 A No. l)

Mission Type:

Lunar Circumlunar Flyby

Country! Builder:


Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date: Time:

October 4, 1959 at 00:43:40 UT (Baikonur)

Em ounter Da tej Time :

October 7, 1959

Mission End:

October 22, 1959


Success, photographed the lunar far side.

Second spacecraft:

Ye-3 No. l

Mission Type:

Lunar Circumlunar Flyby

Country: Builder:


Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date: Time:

April 15, 1960 at 15:06:44 UT (Baikonur)


Upper stage failure.

Third spacecraft:

Ye-3 No.2

Mis si on Type:

Lunar Circumlunar Flyby

Country! Builder:


Launch Vehicle:


Launch Date ‘: і ime:

April 19, 1960 at 16:07:43 UT (Baikonur)


Booster failure.

Keldysh’s Applied Mathematics Institute designed special orbits that would allow7 the spacecraft to photograph the far side of the Moon and then return to the vicinity of Earth over the USSR to transmit the pictures back at close range. There were only two launch opportunities for these restricted types of orbits, one in October 1959 for photography on approaching the Moon, and another in April 1960 for photography on receding from it. One Ye-2A spacecraft was launched in October and two of the Ye-3 type were assigned to the follow up. The first, Luna 3, was successful, but both of the more advanced spacecraft were lost to launch vehicle failures.

The Luna 3 mission was a momentous achievement for that time, and its pictures excited the w orld. But no one outside the USSR knew7 of the failures in the program. Of nine launches, six were total losses. Luna 1 failed to achieve its prime mission, but

Luna 2 was successful. And although Luna 3 look and transmitted pictures, they were of poor quality. Nevertheless, to the outside world it appeared that the Soviets had successfully launched three lunar missions of progressively greater complexity, and could do almost anything at will. In stark contrast, at the end of 1960 America appeared to be incompetent with nine embarrassing public failures yielding just one wide miss of the Moon.

After the success of Luna 3, the Soviet lunar program experienced a З-year hiatus as the focus shifted to the more challenging planetary targets, Venus and Mars, and a new robotic spacecraft was developed for soft landing on the Moon.


Two competing telecommunication systems were started for the lunar photography, one by Bogomolov labeled Ye-2 and the other by Ryazansky labeled Ye-2A. It was decided to use the Ye-2A system. The Ye-2A spacecraft designed by Gleb Maximov was a cylindrically shaped canister 130 cm in length with hemispherical ends and a 120 cm wide flange near the top. The cylindrical section was approximately 95 cm in diameter. The canister was hermetically sealed at 0.23 bar and held the cameras and film processing apparatus, communications equipment, thermal control fans, gyroscopes, and rechargeable silver-zinc batteries. Uplink was at 102 MHz and downlink at 183.6 MHz. A backup telemetry system operated at 39.986 MHz. The spacecraft had six omnidirectional antennas, four protruding from the top and two from the bottom. The thermal control system was to prevent the internal temperature from exceeding 25 C by using passive flaps mounted along the cylinder. There were micrometeoroid detectors, cosmic ray detectors, and solar cells for recharging the batteries on the exterior. The upper hemisphere of the probe housed the camera port, and the lower hemisphere housed the cold gas З-axis attitude control jets. There was no propulsion system with which to perform midcourse maneuvers. The spacecraft was to be spin stabilized under cruise, switch to 3-axis stabilization for photography, and then resume spin stabilization. Photoelectric cells were used to maintain orientation with respect to the Sun and Moon.

The follow up spacecraft, originally designated Ye-2F, were intended to acquire more and improved images of the lunar far side. As these were being prepared, there was a parallel rush to get the new’ four-stage R-7 and the Mars and Venus spacecraft ready for launch starting in the fall of 1960. The Ye-3 project was canceled when its camera system was judged too complicated and unreliable, and the Ye-2L spacecraft was re-designated Ye-3 shortly before launch. These two spacecraft were essentially the same as the Ye-2A but with improved imaging and radio systems.

Ye-2A launch mass: 278.5 kg

Подпись: Figure 6.7 Luna 3 diagram (from Space Travel Encyclopedia)'. 1. Thermal control louvres; 2. Ion traps; 3. Micrometeorite detector; 4. Antennas; 5. Sun sensors; 6. Camera port; 7. Solar panels; 8. Attitude control microjets.


1. Yenisey-2 photo-television facsimile camera system

2. Micrometeoroid detector

3. Ion traps (3)

4. Cherenkov radiation detector

5. Scintillation and gas discharge Geiger radiation counters

6. Mass spectrometer (not flown)


Fignrc 6.8 Luna 3 spacecraft.


Figure 6.*) Yenisey-2 photo-facsimile imaging system.

Several instruments from Luna 1 and 2 were flown in addition to the new camera system. A mass spectrometer based on an instrument that was flown sueeessfully on Sputnik 3 was planned but canceled owing to mass and time constraints.

Unlike the Americans who chose to use television v id icon tube cameras for their early deep space photography missions (except the Lunar orbiter series), the Soviets used a film camera system. This was mechanically complex and heavy but provided higher resolution, greater sensitivity, better quality, and was distortion free. The Yenisey-2 facsimile imaging system on the Ye-2 and -3 spacecraft consisted of a 35 mm film camera equipped with 200 mm f/5.6 and 500 mm f/9.5 lenses, an automatic film processing unit, and a photomultiplier film scanner with a resolution of L000 pixels line. The 200 mm objective was sized to image the full disk of the Moon. The camera cycled through four exposure times from 1 /200th to 1 /800th second. It exposed adjacent frame pairs simultaneously, one through each lens, and was capable of taking 40 frames at 1.000 x 1,000 pixel resolution using temperature and radiation resistant isochromatic film. The developed film could be scanned and rewound at ground command, and could be transmitted at either 1.25 lines/second or 50 lines/second depending on the range from Earth. The video signal was sent using the 3-W 183.6 MIIz transmitter. After the Cold War, it was revealed that the Soviets did not have radiation-resistant film and used US radiation-resistant film acquired by scavenging downed American spy balloons flown over the USSR from Western Europe.

Mission description:

Only the first of these missions survived its launch vehicle. The Luna 3 spacecraft (Yc-2A No. l) was successfully launched on October 4, 1959, into an elliptical Earth orbit that took it close to the south pole of the Moon, whereupon lunar gravitation redirected the trajectory back to the vicinity of the Earth, forming a figure-of-eight loop. The spacecraft, which the Soviet press dubbed the ‘Automatic Interplanetary Station’, experienced severe overheating with consequent ragged telemetry shortly after launch. This was alleviated somewhat by reorienting the spin axis and shutting off some equipment. To prepare for photography, the spin was stopped and the gyro-controlled З-axis orientation system activated. It flew within 6.200 km of the south pole of the Moon when at closest approach at 14:16 UT on October 6, and then crossed through the plane of the Moon’s orbit out over the sunlit far side. Early on October 7 the photocell on the top end of the spaceeraft detected the sunlit Moon at a distance of 65,200 km and initiated the 40 minute photography sequence. Twenty-nine frames w’ere exposed before the mechanical shutter jammed. The final image was taken at a distance of 66,700 km.

After photography w? as complete, the spacecraft resumed spinning and the first attempt was made to retrieve images. The signal strength was low and intermittent, and only one image with almost no detail was received. A second attempt was made near apogee at 470.000 km from Earth, but again the transmission quality w as poor. The antenna patterns on the spacecraft may not have been optimal. It was decided to wait for the most ideal situation when the spacecraft returned to the vicinity of the Earth ten days later. As the spacecraft approached Earth, several attempts to retrieve the images at fast playback did not yield good results. The signals were weak, with a lot of static and radio noise. To reduce the latter, Soviet engineers enforced radio silence in the Black Sea in the vicinity of the Yevpatoria receiving antenna. Finally, on October 18 the signals improved abruptly and 17 resolvable but noisy pictures were successfully received. By design, the mission was undertaken when a portion of the near side was illuminated to provide a point of reference, so only 70% of the far side was sunlit. Contact with Luna 3 was lost on October 22 and it burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere in April 1960.

Both Ye-3 spacecraft fell victim to their launchers. The third stage of the rocket carrying Yc-3 No. l cutoff prematurely. The kerosene tank had not been completely filled! At a range of only about 200,000 km from the Earth the spacecraft fell back and burned up in the atmosphere. The Yc-3 No.2 launch failed spectacularly when at the moment of liftoff one of the strap-on boosters failed to reach full thrust, placing abnormal loads on the vehicle. Three of ihe strap-ons separated at only a few meters altitude, resulting in violent maneuvers of the four separated pieces of the rocket and powerful explosions. There was considerable damage to the pad and buildings at the launch site. This brought a fiery end to the first series of Soviet lunar spacecraft and the final use of the 8K72 R-7E Luna launcher for lunar missions.


Figure 6.10 First image of the far side of the Moon returned by Lima 3. The dark area at lower left is Mare Smythii on the near side. The right-most three-quarters of the image shows part of the far side. The dark spot at upper right is Mare Moscoviense and the small dark circle at lower right is the crater Tsiolkovsky with its central peak.


Figure 6.11 Mosaic of Luna 3 images showing the far side of the Moon.


Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to photograph the lunar far side, but the 17 pictures successfully received were very noisy and of low resolution. Only six of these were published. A tentative atlas was compiled showing the far side to be very different to the near side, being predominantly bright highland terrain, without extensive mare. Two small dark regions were named Sea of Moscow and Sea of Dreams, the latter in honor of the Mechta first flyby mission.


Campaign objectives:

After the August 1964 government declaration that divided the work on the Soviet manned lunar program between Chelomey’s Proton-launched cir cum lunar program and Korolev s N-l launched lander program, Korolev continued throughout the year to argue for both to be consolidated under his ОКБ-1. In addition to organizational and economic arguments, he offered the prospect of reaching the Moon much sooner with a spacecraft already in an advanced stage of design, whereas Chelomey would have to start from scratch. For the circumlunar mission Korolev proposed a stripped down form of his Earth orbital Soyuz complex w hich, as it happened, w^as originally conceived wath lunar missions in mind. The anxiety to get a Soviet cosmonaut to the Moon first, and Korolev’s persuasiveness, won him a partial victory in October 1965 when the government approved his 7K-L1 lunar Soyuz for circumlunar flights that would be launched by Chelomey’s Proton using OKB-l’s Block D as an upper stage. The N-l was neither ready nor appropriate for circumlunar missions, it was for the manned lunar landing program. Although rivals, Korolev and Chelomey appeared to work together well in implementing this circumlunar plan. Meanwhile Korolev would continue to develop the hardware for the manned lunar landing program: the N-l launcher, the LOK lunar orbital version of the Soyuz, and the LK lunar lander.

Подпись:Подпись:7K-L1 No.4L

Cireumliinar and Return Test Flight



September 27. 1967 at 22:11:54 UT (Baikonur) Booster destroyed.

7K-L1 No.5L

Circumlunar and Return Test Flight



Launch Date ‘: 7 "une: Outcome:

November 22. 1967 at 19:07:59 UT (Baikonur) Second stage destroyed

Third spacecraft: Mission Type: Country; Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date: Time: Return Date ІI ime: Outcome:

Zond 4 (7 К-LI No.6L)

Test Flight to Lunar Distance and Return USSR TsKBHM Proton-K

March 2, 1968 at 18:29:23 UT (Baikonur) March 9, 1968

Spacecraft self-destructed while on parachutes.

Fourth spacecraft: Mission Type: Country: Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date! Time: Outcome:

7K-L1 No.7L

Circumlunar and Return Test Flight USSR TsKBHM ^


April 22, 1968 at 23:01:27 UT (Baikonur) Failed due to second stage shutdown.

Fifth spacecraft: Mission Type:

Country j Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date ‘: 7 ime: Em•ounier Da tej Time: Return Date! Time: Outcome:

Zond 5 (7K-L1 No.9L)

Circumlunar and Return Test Flight



September 14. 1968 at 21:42:11 UT (Baikonur) September 18. 1968 September 21. 1968 at 16:08 UT Successful recovery in Indian Ocean.

Sixth spacecraft: Mission Type:

Country і Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Dateі 7 7me: Encoun ter Date/ Time: Re turn Date/ Time: Outcome:

Zond 6 (7K-L1 No. l2L)

Circumlunar and Return Test Flight


Proton – K

November 10. 1968 at 19:11:31 UT (Baikonur) November 14. 1968 November 17. 1968

Spacecraft crashed on return landing in Kazakhstan.

Seventh spacecraft: Mission Type: Country j Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date: Time: Outcome:

7K-L1 No. l3L

Test Flight to Lunar Distance and Return



January 20, 1969 at 04:14:36 UT (Baikonur) Upper stages failed.

Eighth spacecraft: Mission type:

Country і Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date/ Time: Encoun ter Date; 7 ‘ime: Re turn Date / Time: Outcome:

Zond 7 (7K-L1 No. 11)

Circumlunar and Return Test Flight USSR TsKBEM Proton-K

August 7. 1969 at 23:48:06 UT (Baikonur)

August 11, 1969

August 14, 1969

Successful recovery in Siberia.

Zond 8 (7K-L1 No.14)

Подпись: Ninth spacecraft: Mission type: Country і Builder: Launch Vehicle: Launch Date: Time: Ипсоип ter Date/ V 'ime: Re turn Date/ Time: Outcome: Circumlunar and Return Test Flight



October 20, 1970 at 19:55:39 UT (Baikonur) October 24. 1970 October 27. 1970 at 13:55 UT Successful recovery in Indian Ocean.

It was decided to make the test flights of the lunar versions of the Soyu/ in the Zond series, beginning with the 7K-L1 circumlunar model launched by the Proton. Approved in December 1966, the plan for the LI program called for four automated tests prior to the first manned circumlunar flight, which was scheduled for launch on June 26, 1967. The follow-on series was intended to test the 7K-LOK lunar orbital model launched by the N-l lunar rocket, the Soviet counterpart to the Saturn V. This extensive flight testing in the manned program was unique to the Soviets. Ironically, Korolev generally eschewed full-up piloted flight tests in the manner of Apollo, but he abhorred the extensive ground testing the US conducted in all its programs. As a result, Soviet spacecraft generally had a much higher degree of automation than US spacecraft, often to the chagrin of the cosmonauts, and the lack of ground testing led to poor performance in test flights and consequent failures and delays.

The success of Zond 5 in circumnavigating the Moon, returning to Earth and then being recovered in September 1968 set of!’ celebrations in the USSR. It was the first mission of either nation to achieve this feat. Shortly afterwards the Soviets revealed that it was an automated flight of a Soyuz manned capsule. This set off alarms in the US, because the way seemed clear for a cosmonaut to Пу the same mission. There were windows in November and mid-December which would enable the Soviets to steal a march on Apollo 8. whose launch window was in late December. (A window Гог the northerly Baikonur site opened slightly earlier than for the lower latitude site in Florida.) The Soviets used the November window for another test, but Zond 6 Tailed catastrophically during landing. Unaware of this setback the US expected a Soviet manned circumlunar mission in December, but there was no such launch. The way was now clear for Apollo 8. The Soviets had insisted on four successful automated flights of Zond prior to a manned mission. There had been an internal debate on whether it would be justified to make an attempt as reckless as the Soviets Гек the Americans were making with a mission to orbit the Moon using the first manned Saturn V. The failure of Zond 6 rendered this debate moot. After Apollo 8 the Soviets doggedly continued to perfect Zond for the circumlunar mission, but switched their focus and rushed tests of the N-l launcher.

Although most Zond test flights were designed to provide information on the techniques and technologies needed to fly cosmonauts to the Moon and back safely, they also provided information of scientific interest. Instrumentation flown on these missions gathered data on micrometeoroid flux, solar and cosmic rays, magnetic

fields, radio emissions, and the solar wind. Biological payloads were also flown and many excellent photographs of the Moon and Earth were taken.


The Soyuz 7K-L1 was a version of the 7K-LOK lunar orbital spacecraft modified to perform a circumlunar mission. Lacking an orbital module, it would have carried two rather than three cosmonauts. It had redesigned instrument panels for lunar missions and a thicker heat shield to handle the faster re-entry from a lunar return. There were a number of other design differences for the circumlunar missions.

Zond 4 is notable for being the first Soviet spacecraft to possess a computer. The 34 kg Argon 11 used integrated circuits, drew 75 W, was capable of 15 operations, and was provided with 4K of instruction ROM and 128 words of RAM.

Zond launch mass: ~ 5,375 kg


Figure 10.18 Comparison of Soyuz at left and Zond at right (from Space Travel Encyclopedia).


Zonds 5 to 7:

1. Imaging system (color on Zond 7)

2. Cosmic ray detectors

3. Micrometeoroid detectors (Zond 6 only)

4. Biology payload


Figure 10.19 Zond 4 to Zond 8 spacecraft (courtesy Energiya Corp).

Zond 8:

1. Imaging system

2. Solar wind collector

The imaging systems on Zond 5, 6 and 8 carried a 400 mm camera for 13 x 18 cm frames of lsopanchromalic film. Zond 7 carried a 300 mm camera using 5.6 x 5.6 an film, both panchromatic and color. The solar wind collector utilized aluminum foil targets similar to the solar wind collectors that xA. pollo astronauts set up on the lunar surface, except that in the case of the Zond missions they were on the exterior of the descent capsule.

Mission description:

The constraints for circumlunar flights with launch and recovery in the high latitudes of the Soviet Union were fairly severe, yielding only 5 or 6 launch opportunities per year and not always spread out evenly over the year. Hence some Zond tests were made out to lunar distance without the Moon being available. Before the automated circumlunar series, there were two Earth orbital test flights. The first, launched on March 10, 1967, was only the fifth flight of the Proton and the first with Korolev’s Block D fourth stage. It successfully placed the Soyuz into an orbit with an apogee far from Earth and telemetry tests were carried out. No recovery was attempted. The mission, designated Cosmos 146, was an auspicious start. The schedule for the first manned circumlunar flight in June 1967 seemed feasible. But then everything went wrong. The second flight test on April 6, 1967, went awry when the Block D failed.

Worse, on April 23 the first manned Earth orbital flight of the Soyuz failed when it crashed upon landing, killing cosmonaut Vladimir Komarov. His brief orbital flight had been plagued with serious problems and in attempting an emergency landing the parachute became entangled. Both the Zond and Soyuz programs stood down while the common issues were addressed. By September the Zond program was ready to resume.

The first two circumlunar mission attempts fell victim to the Proton launcher. In the first on September 27, 1967. one of the six engines on the booster failed to ignite owing to a blocked propellant line and the rocket was destroyed 97 seconds into the flight. Pad engineers had not removed a cover before flight. On the second launch on November 22, 1967. one of the four engines on the second stage failed to ignite at 125 seconds into the flight and the rocket was destroyed at the 130 second mark.

The next launch had been scheduled for a window7 in April 1968, but the Soviets were anxious to finish testing and beat the US to the Moon so it w7as decided to go early, without the Moon, and test the spacecraft to lunar distance with the high speed re-entry. On March 2. 1968, Zond 4 w7as launched into a highly elliptical orbit with an apogee al 354.000 km. ll suffered many in flight system failures. An erratic star tracker in the attitude control system complicated the flight, but engineers managed to navigate the spacecraft back to Earth. The sensor failed again in the automated re-entry sequence, resulting a ballistic rather than the intended guided descent. While descending on its parachute over the Gulf of Guinea the capsule realized that it was off course and self-destructed using a mechanism installed in part to ensure that the Americans could not recover the spacecraft in the event of a badly targeted re-entry.

The next Zond launch attempt w’as to have been a cireumlunar flight, but it failed ignominiously on April 22, 1968, when the spacecraft emergency escape system was erroneously triggered at the 194 second mark, shutting down the second stage of the launcher and carrying the Zond spacecraft clear. It was recovered 520 km from the pad. Another planned Zond launch w? ent awry on July 14, 1968. when the oxygen tank in the fourth stage ruptured on the pad during pre-launch testing, destroying the Block D stage and killing three engineers. Fortunately, the lower stages, all loaded with propellant, did not explode. Although undamaged, spacecraft 7K-L1 No.8 was discarded.

After this frustrating series of failures, Zond 5 became the first fully successful cireumlunar flight. Launched on September 14. 1968, it achieved its mission despite suffering several technical problems. The Earth sensor had been mounted incorrectly owing to an error in the documentation. The star-tracker attitude control system was rendered ineffective when its optical surfaces became contaminated by sublimating thermal protection material. Worse, the backup system was mistakenly turned off. But engineers were able to control the spacecraft’s attitude in an awkward and slow’ process using the Sun sensors. Two midcourse maneuvers were conducted, and the spacecraft flew7 around the Moon on September 18 with a closest point of approach at an altitude of 1,950 km. Jodrell Bank announced the achievement and reported the spacecraft heading back to Earth. Only at this point did the Soviets actually admit to having launched the mission! On the voyage home a second attitude control sensor failed. On September 21 the spacecraft re-entered at 11 km/s at an overly steep angle on a ballistic rather than the planned guided ‘skip’ re-emry. fortunately, after the loss of Zond 4, the self-destruction system had been deleted. After a 6 minuie ride through the atmosphere with peak stresses of 16 G and 13.000 C, the descent capsule parachuted into the Indian Ocean at 16:08 UT near 32.63’S 65.55’E. 105 km from the nearest Soviet tracking ship. This was the first water recovery for the Soviets. The eapsule was offloaded at Mumbai. India, for return lo Moscow by aircraft. This boosted Soviet confidence in their human lunar program, but the flight had suffered serious non-fatal failures.

Zond 6 was successfully launched on November 10. 1968. Attitude control again became a problem when the high gain antenna, with the main star tracker attached. Tailed to deploy. The backup siar tracker system and a lower gain antenna were used instead. As the spacecraft flew around the Moon on November 14 at an altitude of 2,420 km it photographed the near and far sides. On its way home engineers had to reorient the spacecraft to try to control the temperature in a hydrogen peroxide tank by exposing it to direct sunlight and unfortunately this also heated and deformed the hatch seal, causing the cabin to depressurize. The biology payload was killed and the altimeter damaged. In preparation for re-entry on November 17 the service module separated as intended but the high gain antenna remained attached to the front of the capsule. The vehicle entered the atmosphere at 11 km/s and after bleeding off some energy it skipped back into space at 7.6 km/s as intended, at which time the antenna detached. All went well with the ‘second dip’ until at an altitude of 5,300 meters the altimeter failed to function properly and commanded the parachute to be jettisoned. Some film was recovered from the wreckage, including the first color pictures of the Moon, before explosives engineers detonated the 10 kg of I N I that had been carried on board the capsule for the radio-command destruct system.

Of tw o circumlunar missions, Zond 5 had failed to perform the skip’ maneuver during re-entry and had made a ballistic descent and splashed into the Indian Ocean, and Zond 6 had flown the intended trajectory only to fail on its parachute within the Baikonur boundary only 16 km from the launch pad. Undeterred, the Soviets made a valiant effort to prepare a mission for the December opportunity. Cosmonauts in training for a circum lunar flight argued to be allowed to fly. A vehicle was rolled out to the pad on December 1. but the spacecraft suffered so many technical problems that the window closed before approval to launch could be obtained. Even after the successful flight of Apollo 8 later in the month, the Soviets continued with the Zond tests. The hardware was available and the obvious thing was to push for success and realize the benefits of the investment. There was no precedent for actually stopping a Soviet space project with this much visibility. There remained the hope of making a manned circumlunar flight, although this prospect faded as the focus switched to the N-l launcher.

But in the next 8 months, w hile the Americans reveled in the success of Apollo 8, 10 and 11. three more set backs were to plague the Soviet manned lunar program. Anxious to solve the problems with the Zonds, another test flight to lunar distance was planned before the circumlunar window’s opened in summer. The launch of 7K – L1 No. l3L failed in January 1969 due to problems with the second and third stages.


Figure 10.20 Proton launcher ready on the pad with Zond 5.

One of four sccond-stagc engines shut down early, and then during its phase of the ascent the third stage suffered a breakdown in its fuel feed system and cut off. Even more significant for the manned program, in February and July of 1969 the first two test launches of the N-l lunar rocket also failed.

Nine months after the Zond 6 disaster, and shortly after Apollo 11 succeeded and the Soviet robotic lander Luna 15 crashed, Zond 7 was launched towards the Moon on August 7, 1969. The next day, it conducted a midcourse maneuver and took color pictures of Earth. On August 11 the spacecraft flew around the Moon at an altitude of 1,985 km and performed two sessions of color photography of both the Moon and Earth. It returned to Earth on August 14, made the intended ‘skipping’ re-entry and landed successfully in a preselected area south of Kustanai in Kazakhstan.

The plan had called for four test flights prior to a manned circumlunar mission, but of the four only Zond 5 and 7 wrere fully successful. This poor success rate led to


Figure 10.21 Picture of Earth from Zond 5.

a proposal to fly one more test flight and then a manned mission to celebrate Lenin’s birthday in April 1970. The supporters argued that the flight would contribute to the program by demonstrating to the world that the USSR was capable of manned lunar missions. But the government rejected it because it would look second rate. To have sent cosmonauts on a circumlunar mission ahead of Apollo 8 would have been one thing, but to do so after Apollo 11 was something else. At the political level, benefit was now being determined relative to American achievements. Approval was given only for the final automated test flight.

Zond 8 vras launched on October 20, 1970. The next day it took pictures of Earth


Figure 10.22 Photograph of the lunar surface and Earth from Zond 7.

from 64,480 km, and the day after that it made a midcourse maneuver at a range of

250.0 km. ft transmitted images of Earth for 3 days during its outbound flight and conducted two imaging sessions as it passed behind the Moon on October 24 at an altitude of 1,110 km. After two midcourse correction maneuvers on the return leg, it made a ballistic re-entry over the northern hemisphere on a southbound trajectory to sustain communication in most of the re-entry sequence. All previous Zonds had re­entered over the southern hemisphere, heading north. The capsule splashed into the Indian Ocean at 13:55 UT on October 27, approximately 24 km from the target point 730 km southeast of the Chagos Islands. It was recovered 15 minutes later by the Soviet oceanographic vessel Taman for return to Moscow by way of Bombay, India.


These were primarily engineering tesl flights, but they also carried payloads which provided scientific results.

Zond 5: High quality photographs of Earth were taken on the way home at a range of 90,000 km. They were useful because the film would be able to be processed on Earth rather than scanned on board and transmitted by radio. A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, fly eggs, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other


Figure 10.23 Photograph of Earth from Zond 7.

living matter was recovered. The turtles had lost significant body mass and exhibited other metabolic anomalies. The fly eggs had not produced the expected number of adults, and the next generations of these showed a large increase in mutations.

Zond 6: The crash broke the film canister, but some film was recovered including images of the lunar limb and far side features taken at ranges of approximately 3,300 to 11,000 km. Some stereo pairs were also obtained. Only a few of its images have been published.

Zond 7: Color photography of both Earth and the Moon. A biological payload of turtles, wine flics, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was successfully recovered.

Zond 8: Obtained photographs of Earth and the Moon from distances of 9,500 and 1,500 km.

To sum up, although the photography was excellent the science results from these


Figure 10.24 Picture from Zond 8.

test flights were minimal. Data on solar wind and cosmic rays was obtained but not published. The seed samples on recovered flights all showed chromosomal damage but of the animals only the turtles on Zond 5 showed any ill-effects.