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The first soft lunar landing in history: Roscosmos published declassified documents of the 1966 Luna-9 mission
13.02.2021 [00:20],
Konstantin Khodakovsky

55 years ago, in February 1966, the Soviet automatic station «Luna-9» for the first time in history made a soft landing on the surface of a natural satellite of the Earth. On this occasion, Roscosmos decided to publish on the thematic page a new set of declassified documents along with information, photographs and visualizations of this project.

Fragment of one of three panoramas shot by ALS «Luna-9»

The first Soviet lunar spacecraft, created under the leadership of Sergei Pavlovich Korolev at OKB-1 (today Energia, part of Roskosmos) made the Soviet Union a leader in the exploration of near space: the Luna-1 (E-1) station became the first artificial satellite of the Sun, «Luna-2» (E-1A) was the first in the world to reach the surface of the Moon, and «Luna-3» (E-2A) for the first time made it possible to obtain images of the reverse side of this satellite. The missions steadily and quickly became more complicated, so that already at the end of 1959, a project was proposed for performing a soft landing on the Moon, which resulted in a program for creating automatic lunar stations of the E-6 type.

Throw tests of shock absorbers ALS E-6

During the implementation of the project, it was possible to solve such problems as the launch of spacecraft into deep space from an intermediate near-earth orbit, the use of autonomous astroorientation, correction of the flight trajectory at a great distance from the Earth, the implementation of accurate aiming and a soft landing on a celestial body devoid of atmosphere. The created devices were much more complex and heavier than the first «lunar», and they were planned to be launched by the launch vehicle 8K78 (known as «Molniya»), the development of which was carried out in parallel for the task of sending automatic interplanetary stations to Mars and Venus.

Assembly of ALS

The main scientific instrument that was planned to be delivered to the moon was a panoramic television camera. In addition, the station had instruments for registering cosmic radiation. But due to the fact that rocket and space technology at that time was only gaining flight statistics and did not have high reliability, flight tests of E-6 stations were accompanied by difficulties. Of the eleven E-6 type stations launched from January 1963 to December 1965, none achieved complete success, although Luna-5, Luna-7 and Luna- eight».

Visualization of the ALS approach to the Moon

The result of the elimination of the identified shortcomings was the creation by OKB-1 specialists by the spring of 1965 of the modernized project of the E-6M station. The production of the updated station E-6M was transferred to the Moscow Machine-Building Plant named after S. BUT. Lavochkin, under the leadership of G. H. Babakina. Sergei Pavlovich Korolev no longer witnessed the triumph of his brainchild: he died during a planned operation on January 14, 1966.

Visualization of the landing of the station «Luna-9»

The launch vehicle 8K78M («Molniya») with the E-6M spacecraft was launched on January 31, 1966 — everything went according to the planned program: the station with the upper stage entered the reference orbit, and then brought the automatic station to the specified trajectory. Preparations for landing began on February 3, 1966, five hours before reaching the target. Before deceleration, the station «caught» the lunar vertical, and then, dropping unnecessary side compartments, at an altitude of 75 km from the lunar surface, turned on the braking engine. And a few minutes later the automatic lunar station (ALS) made a soft landing at the point with coordinates 7 ° 8 ‘s.w. and 64 ° 22 ‘W.d. in the region of the Ocean of Storms, west of the craters Rainer and Mari.

Visualization of «Luna-9» on the surface of a natural satellite of the Earth

After completing the world’s first «lunar landing», the «Luna-9» station turned into an operating position and conducted nine communication sessions, transmitting three circular panoramas of the lunar surface to the Earth. Scientists received information about the properties of the lunar soil, as well as about cosmic radiation on the Moon and along the entire flight path, which became the most valuable material for the developers of the manned lunar program. It is curious that the United States was able to «lunar» its Surveyor-1 station only four months later.

By the way, February 12 marks another important anniversary in the history of Russian and world cosmonautics — 60 years ago, Venera-1 became the first spacecraft launched to another planet:

# History: 60 years ago a four-stage launch vehicle «Molniya» with an automatic interplanetary station «Venera-1» was launched from Baikonur — https: // / YHBKVFxmtE
�� She became the first man-made object in history sent from Earth to another planet in the solar system! / FXWsEodtP3

— ROSCOSMOS (@roscosmos) February 12, 2021

# Chronograph: On February 12, 1961, the Soviet automatic interplanetary station # Venera-1 was launched from the Baikonur cosmodrome. It was the first spacecraft launched to another planet. / MewjiIJUPA

— ROSCOSMOS TV (@tvroscosmos) February 12, 2021

Gagarin constellation: Oleg Ivanovsky — technical head of testing of automatic stations of the #Venera series, deputy leading designer of the first and second artificial earth satellites, leading designer of the first #Vostok spacecraft. https: // / erLC1qHh2K

— ROSCOSMOS TV (@tvroscosmos) February 12, 2021

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