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astronautix.com Luna E-1


Spacecraft: Luna E-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.


Spacecraft: Luna E-1A. First probe to impact lunar surface. Delivered a pennant to the surface of the Moon and conducted research during flight to the Moon.

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Last update 28 March 2001.
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© Mark Wade, 2001 .