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astronautix.com Luna E-1

Luna 1 / E-1
Luna 1 / E-1 -

Credit: NASA. 14,006 bytes. 182 x 282 pixels.



Class: Planetary. Type: Lunar. Nation: USSR. Manufacturer: OKB-1.

The first spacecraft to achieve escape velocity and the first to reach the Moon. The spacecraft was sphere-shaped. Five antennae extended from one hemisphere. Instrument ports also protruded from the surface of the sphere. There were no propulsion systems on the spacecraft itself. The spacecraft also included various metallic emblems with the Soviet coat of arms. At a distance of 113,000 km from Earth, a large (1 kg) cloud of sodium gas was released by the spacecraft. This glowing orange trail of gas, with the brightness of a sixth-magnitude star, allowed astronomers to track the spacecraft. It also served as an experiment on the behavior of gas in outer space. The spacecraft contained radio equipment, a tracking transmitter, and telemetering system, five different sets of scientific devices for studying interplanetary space, including a magnetometer, geiger counter, scintillation counter, and micrometeorite detector, and other equipment. The measurements obtained during the missions provided new data on the Earth's radiation belt and outer space, including the discovery that the Moon had no magnetic field and that a solar wind, a strong flow of ionized plasma emanating from the Sun, streamed through interplanetary space.


Specification

Total Mass: 361 kg.


Luna E-1 Chronology


20 March 1958 Soviet lunar probes authorised. Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72.

Decree 'On work on automated lunar probes and three-stage launch vehicles for them' was issued.


02 September 1958 Launch of Soviet Luna probes authorised. Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72.

Decree 'On launch of automated lunar probes November' was issued.


23 September 1958 Luna failure Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. FAILURE: Launcher disintegrated 93 seconds after launch due to longitudinal resonance of strap-ons.

This was the start of an acrimonious debated between Glushko and Korolev design bureaux over the fault and fix for the problem.


11 October 1958 Luna Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. FAILURE: Launcher disintegrated 104 seconds after launch due to longitudinal resonance of strap-ons.
04 December 1958 Luna Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. FAILURE: Core engines shut off at 245 seconds into the flight. Cause was a loss of lubrication to the hydrogen peroxide pump.
02 January 1959 Luna 1 Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. Mass: 361 kg.

Lunar probe; passed within 5.995 km of moon but did not hit it as planned due to a failure of the launch vehicle control system. Went into solar orbit. First manmade object to attain of escape velocity. Also known as Mechta ("Dream"), popularly called Lunik I. Because of its high velocity and its announced package of various metallic emblems with the Soviet coat of arms, it was concluded that Luna 1 was intended to impact the Moon. After reaching escape velocity, Luna 1 separated from its 1472 kg third stage. The third stage, 5.2 m long and 2.4 m in diameter, travelled along with Luna 1. On 3 January, at a distance of 113,000 km from Earth, a large (1 kg) cloud of sodium gas was released by the spacecraft. This glowing orange trail of gas, visible over the Indian Ocean with the brightness of a sixth-magnitude star, allowed astronomers to track the spacecraft. It also served as an experiment on the behavior of gas in outer space. Luna 1 passed within 5,995 km of the Moon's surface on 4 January after 34 hours of flight. It went into orbit around the Sun, between the orbits of Earth and Mars. The measurements obtained during this mission provided new data on the Earth's radiation belt and outer space, including the discovery that the Moon had no magnetic field and that a solar wind, a strong flow of ionized plasma emmanating from the Sun, streamed through interplanetary space.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .