Luna Missions to the Moon

    Luna 2 Luna 10 Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1

    The Luna Society programme (from the Russian word "Luna" meaning "Moon"), occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration. They also performed many experiments, studying the Moon's chemical composition, gravity, temperature, and radiation. Twenty-four spacecraft were formally given the Luna designation, although more were launched. Those which failed to reach orbit were not publicly acknowledged at the time and not assigned a Luna number and ones which failed in low Earth orbit were usually given Cosmos designations. The estimated cost of Luna Program was about $4.5 billion.

    Luna 1958A

    Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launch: September 23, 1958
    The rocket carrying the spacecraft exploded just after liftoff.

    Luna 1958B

    Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launched: October 12, 1958
    The rocket carrying the spacecraft to the Moon exploded just after liftoff. Although Luna 1958B was launched hours after Pioneer 1, its trajectory would have allowed it to beat Pioneer 1 to the Moon. 

    Luna 1958C

    Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launched: December 4, 1958
    The rocket's first stage failed shortly after launch. 

    Luna 1

    Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launched: January 2, 1959
    The spacecraft missed the Moon and went into a solar orbit. However, the spacecraft did provide some scientific data when it released a sodium vapor cloud 70,000 miles from Earth that allowed scientists to study interplanetary gases.

    Luna 1959A

    Failed lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launched: June 18, 1959
    The rocket's guidance system failed and the spacecraft was unable to reach Earth orbit. 

    Luna 2

    Successful lunar impactor (USSR)
    Launched: September 12, 1959
    Lunar impact: September 14, 1959
    Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to land on another celestial body. |The spacecraft impacted on the Moon's surface just east of the Sea of Serenity near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. The spacecraft did not detect a magnetic field around the Moon.

    Luna 3

    Successful lunar flyby (USSR)
    Launched: October 4, 1959
    Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to take pictures of the far side of the Moon. It is uncertain how many pictures the spacecraft returned, but three images were released to the public, as well as a composite image of the full disc of the Moon's far side, which was made up of several frames. As a result of these pictures, the Russians were the first to name features on the far side of the Moon. Luna 3's trajectory took the spacecraft from Earth, around the Moon and back, where it reentered the Earth's atmosphere on April 20, 1960.

    Luna 4

    Failed lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: April 2, 1963
    Contact with Luna 4 was lost after it past within 9,300 kilometers (5,780 miles) of the Moon.

    Luna 5

    Failed lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: May 9, 1965
    Lunar Impact: May 12, 1965
    This mission was the first-ever attempt to soft-land a spacecraft on the Moon. Luna 5's retro-rockets failed to fire and the spacecraft crash-landed near the Sea of Clouds.

    Luna 6

    Failed lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: June 8, 1965
    On its way to the Moon, a rocket failed to turn off after a trajectory correction maneuver. As a result, Luna 8 missed the Moon and went into a solar orbit.

    Luna 7

    Failed lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: October 4, 1965
    Lunar impact: October 7, 1965
    Luna 7 made it to the Moon, but its retro rockets switched on too soon. The spacecraft crash-landed in the Ocean of Storms, west of the crater Kepler.

    Luna 8

    Failed lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: December 3, 1965
    Lunar impact: December 6, 1965
    Luna 8 made it to the Moon, but its retro rockets fired too late and the spacecraft crash-landed in the Ocean of Storms, east of the crater Galilei.

    Luna 9

    Successful lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: Jan. 31, 1966
    Lunar landing: February 3, 1966
    Luna 9 became the first spacecraft to make a controlled landing onto the surface of another celestial body. Scientists believe Luna 9 landed on the sloping floor of a shallow crater. Over the next two days, the spacecraft sent back three panoramas of the lunar landscape. During the second and third transmission, the spacecraft evidently shifted or settled a few centimeters, because the third batch of images were taken from a slightly different angle. The different angle allowed scientists to construct a stereoscopic view of the landing site and determine the distances to various rocks and depressions. The last communication with the spacecraft was on Feb. 5, 1966.

    Luna 10

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: March 31, 1966
    Lunar arrival: April 2, 1966
    Luna 10 arrived at the Moon becoming the first spacecraft to successfully go into orbit around another celestial body. While in orbit, Luna 10 studied radiation levels, cosmic ray intensities, and took readings of the Moon's weak magnetic field. The spacecraft successfully transmitted data for two months, circling the Moon 460 times before its mission came to an end on May 30, 1966.

    Luna 11

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: August 24, 1966
    Lunar orbit: August 27, 1966
    The spacecraft, designed to test new technology, completed 277 orbits before its mission was terminated on October 1, 1966.

    Luna 12

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: October 22, 1966
    Lunar orbit: October 25, 1966
    The primary mission of the spacecraft was to photograph the lunar surface and it did, taking 1,100 pictures including images of the Sea of Rains and the area surrounding the crater Aristarchus. The mission was terminated on January 19, 1967 after 602 orbits.

    Luna 13

    Successful lunar lander (USSR)
    Launched: December 21, 1966
    Lunar landing: December 24, 1966
    Luna 13 bounced to a landing on the lunar surface coming to a rest in the Oceans of Storms between the craters Selencus and Craft. The lander collected soil samples and conducted experiments to determine the soil density and radioactivity. The mission ended on December 30, 1966, when the spacecraft's supplies were depleted.

    Luna 14

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: April 7, 1968
    Lunar orbit: April 10, 1968
    The spacecraft took images of the Moon and studied the lunar gravitational field.

    Luna 1969A

    Failed lunar rover (USSR)
    Launched: February 19, 1969
    The spacecraft's rocket exploded shortly after launch. 

    Luna 1969B

    Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: April 15, 1969
    The spacecraft's rocket apparently exploded on the launch pad.

    Luna 1969C

    Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: June 14, 1969
    The spacecraft's rocket exploded shortly after launch.

    Luna 15

    Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: July 13, 1969
    Luna 15 was launched in a veil of secrecy only three days before Apollo 11. The Soviets did not reveal the target or mission of Luna 15 causing some concern on the part of the United States. Would Luna 15's mission interfere with Apollo 11? Where would it land? Would there be communication interference? Just two hours before the liftoff of Apollo 11, Luna 15 began its descent to the surface in the Sea of Crisis. The spacecraft crashed landed on the lunar surface. The Soviets issued a statement claiming the research part of the mission was complete, but there had been hints that Luna 15 was intended to be sample return mission. No samples were returned.

    Luna 16

    Successful lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: September 12, 1970
    Lunar landing: September 20, 1970
    Returned to Earth: September 24, 1970
    Luna 16 was the first robotic mission to land on the Moon, collect samples of dust and rock, and return those samples to Earth. Luna 16 was also the first spacecraft to land in the lunar darkness. The spacecraft landed in the Sea of Fertility. After collecting dust and rock samples, the spacecraft was launched back into space 26 hours later. It returned to Earth with a soft landing on bringing back 101 grams of Moon rocks.

    Luna 17 / Lunokhod 1

    Successful lunar rover (USSR)
    Launched: November 10, 1970
    Lunar landing: November 15, 1970
    Luna 17 soft landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains. Two ramps extended away from the spacecraft, allowing the Lunokhod rover to roll onto the lunar terrain. Over the course of 11 lunar cycles, the remote controlled rover traveled over 10.5 kilometers (6 miles) and sent back 20,000 television pictures of the lunar landscape. The rover was officially shut down on October 4, 1971. 

    Luna 18

    Failed lunar landing (USSR)
    Launched: September 2, 1971
    Lunar orbit: September 7, 1971
    After completing 54 orbits of the Moon, the spacecraft fired its braking thrusters and began its descent to the lunar surface. Communications were lost when the spacecraft impacted with the surface.

    Luna 19

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: September 28, 1971
    Lunar orbit: October 3, 1971
    Luna 19 studied the lunar environment, including: lunar radiation levels, mass concentrations, the solar wind, etc.

    Luna 20

    Successful lunar sample return  (USSR)
    Launched: February 14, 1972
    Lunar landing: February 21, 1972
    Returned to Earth: February 25, 1972
    Luna 20 soft landed in the Apollonius highlands near the Sea of Fertility. The spacecraft collected samples and then lifted off the next day. The sealed capsule containing 30 grams of lunar rocks and dust landed in the Soviet Union and was retrieved the following day. 

    Luna 21 / Lunokhod 2

    Successful lunar rover (USSR)
    Launched: January. 8, 1973
    Lunar landing: January 15, 1973
    The rover first took a panoramic shot of the landing site, before it rolled off of its protective shell and onto the lunar surface. The rover was powered by solar panels and kept warm at night by a radioactive heat source. The mission lasted 4 months, during which it took over 80,000 TV pictures and covered 37 kilometers (22 miles) of lunar terrain.

    Luna 22

    Successful lunar orbiter (USSR)
    Launched: May 29, 1974
    Lunar landing: June 2, 1974
    During its mission, the spacecraft studied the Moon's magnetic field, gamma ray emissions and gravitational field. The mission ended in November of 1975.  

    Luna 23

    Failed lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: October 28, 1974
    Designed as a sample return mission, Luna 23 was damaged during its moon landing on November 6, 1974 and was unable to collect samples. The spacecraft transmitted data for 3 days before falling silent.

    Luna 24

    Successful lunar sample return (USSR)
    Launched: August 9, 1976
    Lunar landing: August 18, 1976
    Returned to Earth: August 22, 1976
    Luna 24 softlanded in the Sea of Crises. The spacecraft collected 170g of lunar dust and rocks and returned to Earth.

    Luna Glob

    Future orbiter / soft lander / 12 penetrators (Russia)
    Launch: planned for 2009

    This ambitious mission includes an orbiter, lander, and penetrators that will set up a seismic network on the Moon.

    • Standard

    • Lunar Documents$29.99
    • 1 Acre
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Premium

    • Lunar Documents$39.99
    • 1 Acre
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Name Printed on Deed
    • Automatic Registration
    • Deluxe

    • Lunar Documents$69.99
    • 1 Acre
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Name Printed on Deed
    • Automatic Registration
    • Framed - Lunar Deed
    • 5 Acres

    • Lunar Documents$99.99
    • 5 Acres
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Name Printed on Deed
    • Automatic Registration
    • Framed - Lunar Deed
    • 10 Acres

    • Lunar Documents$149.99
    • 10 Acres
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Name Printed on Deed
    • Automatic Registration
    • Framed - Lunar Deed
    • Lunar Atlas Software
    • 20 Acres

    • Lunar Documents$249.99
    • 20 Acres
    • Lunar Documents
    • Futuristic Packaging
    • Name Printed on Deed
    • Automatic Registration
    • Framed - Lunar Deed
    • Lunar Atlas Software
    • Framed - Lunar Codes
    • Framed - Lunar Map
    • Meteorite Moon Rock