This page no longer updated from 31 October 2001. Latest version can be found at www.astronautix.com

astronautix.com Luna E-3

Luna 3 / E-3
Luna 3 / E-3 -

Credit: © Mark Wade. 23,238 bytes. 339 x 259 pixels.



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

Looped around the moon and photographed the Moon's far side. The craft was a cylindrically shaped cannister which was equipped with radio communication and telemetering systems, an imaging system with an automatic film processing unit, a set of scientific instruments, three solar cells for electric power supply, and a temperature control system. It had gas jets for stabilization and photoelectric cells to maintain orientation with respect to the Sun and Moon. This spacecraft was controlled by radio command from Earth. It was launched on a figure-eight trajectory which brought it over the Moon (closest approach to the Moon was 6200 km) and around the far side, which was sunlit at the time. It was stabilized while in optical view of the far side of the Moon. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the lunar farside was produced. These first views of the lunar far side showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Dreams).


Specification

Total Mass: 279 kg.


Luna E-3 Chronology


04 October 1959 Luna 3 Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. Mass: 279 kg.

Luna 3 was the third spacecraft successfully launched to the Moon and the first to return images of the lunar far side. It was launched on a figure-eight trajectory which brought it over the Moon (closest approach to the Moon was 6200 km) and around the far side, which was sunlit at the time. It was stabilized while in optical view of the far side of the Moon. On October 7, 1959, the television system obtained a series of 29 photographs over 40 minutes, covering 70% of the surface, that were developed on-board the spacecraft. The photographs were scanned and 17 were radio transmitted to ground stations in facsimile form on October 18, 1959, as the spacecraft, in a barycentric orbit, returned near the Earth. The photographs were to be retransmitted at another point close to Earth but were not received. The spacecraft returned very indistinct pictures, but, through computer enhancement, a tentative atlas of the lunar farside was produced. These first views of the lunar far side showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and two dark regions which were named Mare Moscovrae (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Dreams).


15 April 1960 Luna Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. FAILURE: The third stage RO-5 engine either did not reach full thrust or shut down early.

Reached an altitude of 200,000 km before plunging back to earth.


19 April 1960 Luna Program: Luna. Launch Site: Baikonur . Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. FAILURE: Strap-on B reached only 75 percent of thrust at ignition. Four tenths of a second after liftoff it broke away from the core and the rocket exploded.

This dramatic failure resulted in a loss of thrust, and the lateral strap-on units separated and flew over the tracking stations and living areas. The core continued on its trajectory.


22 October 1962 Soviet lunar photographs analysed Program: Apollo.

The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona, directed by Gerard P. Kuiper, reported that its analysis of lunar photographs taken by Lunik III differed from that announced by Soviet scientists. The most extensive feature of the moon's far side, photographed in 1959, had been named "The Soviet Mountains"; this feature was identified by the Arizona laboratory as an elongated area of bright patches and rays, possibly flat. Another feature, named the "Joliot-Curie Crater" by Soviet scientists, was re-identified by the Arizona laboratory as Mare Novum (New Sea), first identified by German astronomer Julius Franz near the turn of the century.



Bibliography:



Back to Index
Last update 12 March 2001.
Contact Mark Wade with any corrections or comments.
Conditions for use of drawings, pictures, or other materials from this site..
© Mark Wade, 2001 .