Russian Missions to the Moon, Venus, and Mars in 1960s
Krasnopolsky, Vladimir A.
MetadataShow full item record
Flights to the Moon, Venus, and Mars were a natural continuation of the Russian space program after the success of the first orbiters (Sputniks) in 1957-58. Sixteen spacecraft were sent to the Moon in 1959-1970 in the Soviet Union. Basic technological achievements of that program involved the first flyby of the Moon (1959), the first hard landing (1959), the first soft landing (1966), the first orbiter of the Moon (1966), and the first automatic sample return (1970). First observations of the Moon's environment (no magnetic field, no radiation belts, mascons, X-ray and gamma-ray spectroscopy of the rocks, images of the Moon, etc.), discovery of the solar wind and the first measurements of its properties, first studies of the outer radiation belt, micrometeorites and cosmic rays in the interplanetary space were among the scientific results of those missions. Insufficient reliability of the forth rocket stage (which drove a spacecraft to interplanetary orbit from the orbit around Earth) and some spacecraft subsystems badly affected the Russian flights to Venus and Mars in the early 1960s. The first spacecraft Venera was launched to Venus in 1961 and lost halfway to the target. The 2MV program presumed a landing probe to Venus and flyby of Mars with launch in 1962. The Mars 1 probe was lost halfway to Mars. The 3MV program involved a landing probe to Venus and flybys of Venus and Mars using similar spacecraft with launch in 1964-1965. The spacecraft for Mars was not ready by the launch time in 1964 and was sent to the Moon as Zond 3 in 1965. Veneras 2 and 3 were launched in 1965 and lost near Venus. All later Russian missions to Venus were successful. Venera 4 (1967) was the first soft entry probe that made observations down to 22 km and flyby of Venus. Veneras 5 and 6 (1969) were alive down to 17 km, and Venera 7 (1970) made the first soft landing on Venus. Scientific return of the early Venera missions included studies of the interplanetary space at the cruise phase and the first direct measurements of pressure, density, and temperature profiles in the atmosphere and its chemical composition. Atomic O and H were detected and observed in the Venus' upper atmosphere as well. The Mars 1969 mission involved a new large spacecraft and a new powerful booster. However, the mission crashed at the launch phase. The author was technically responsible for the surface phase state and gamma-ray detector at the Venus lander of 2MV, the photometer at the Venus lander of 3MV (Venera 3), electronics of the IR radiometer at Luna 13 (1966), and the ultraviolet spectrometer at the Venera 2, Zond 3, and Mars 1969 missions. This UV spectrometer was also used at the Cosmos 65 and Cosmos 121 orbiters in 1965 and 1966 and returned the first study of the global ozone distribution.