Pioneer Misions to the Moon

    Pioneer    

    The early Pioneer missions marked America's first efforts to break the grip of Earth's gravity and make it to the Moon. While only Pioneer 4 achieved that goal, all eight Pioneer moon shots yielded valuable information that shaped the later successes of theogram - a cornerstone of the U.S. American Space Program.

    Pioneer 3

    Pioneer 0

    Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
    Launch: August 17, 1958
    The first attempt by the United States to fly to the Moon ended just 77 seconds after liftoff when the rocket's first stage exploded.

    Pioneer 1

    Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
    Launch: October 11, 1958
    Just after launch, the rocket's second and third stage failed to separate evenly. As a result, the spacecraft was unable to achieve a lunar trajectory. However, Pioneer 1 did manage to returned data on the Van Allen Belt and micrometeorite impacts before re-entering Earth's atmosphere on Oct. 12, 1958.

    Pioneer 2

    Failed lunar orbiter (USA)
    Launched: November 8, 1958
    Just after launch, the second stage of the rocket failed to ignite. As a result, the spacecraft did not achieve orbit and fell back to Earth. 

    Pioneer 3

    Failed lunar flyby (USA)
    Launched: December 6, 1958
    The rocket's first stage shut off early, causing the spacecraft to crash.

    Pioneer 4

    Successful lunar flyby (USA)
    Launched: March 3, 1959
    Pioneer 4 passed within 60,000 kilometers (37,300 miles) of the Moon, returned data on lunar radiation levels, then entered a solar orbit.

    Pioneer P-3

    Failed lunar flyby USA
    Launched: November 26, 1959
    The protective cover that surrounded the spacecraft while it was attached to the rocket broke away after only 45 seconds in flight. As a result, the spacecraft failed to reach orbit and crashed back to Earth.

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