Encyclopedia Astronautica
Luna E-3



satmosc.jpg
Luna 3 / E-3
Credit: © Mark Wade
Russian lunar flyby probe. 3 launches, 1959.10.04 (Luna 3) to 1960.04.19 (Luna). The E-3 was designed to loop around the moon and photograph the Moon's far side.

The craft was a cylindrically shaped canister which was equipped with radio communication and telemetry 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).

Gross mass: 279 kg (615 lb).
First Launch: 1959.10.04.
Last Launch: 1960.04.16.
Number: 3 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Soyuz The Russian Soyuz spacecraft has been the longest-lived, most adaptable, and most successful manned spacecraft design. In production for fifty years, more than 240 have been built and flown on a wide range of missions. The design will remain in use with the international space station well into the 21st century, providing the only manned access to the station after the retirement of the shuttle in 2011. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Soyuz Russian orbital launch vehicle. The world's first ICBM became the most often used and most reliable launch vehicle in history. The original core+four strap-on booster missile had a small third stage added to produce the Vostok launch vehicle, with a payload of 5 metric tons. Addition of a larger third stage produced the Voskhod/Soyuz vehicle, with a payload over 6 metric tons. Using this with a fourth stage, the resulting Molniya booster placed communications satellites and early lunar and planetary probes in higher energy trajectories. By the year 2000 over 1,628 had been launched with an unmatched success rate of 97.5% for production models. Improved models providing commercial launch services for international customers entered service in the new millenium, and a new launch pad at Kourou was to be inaugurated in 2009. It appeared that the R-7 could easily still be in service 70 years after its first launch. More...
  • Luna 8K72 Russian orbital launch vehicle. R-7 ICBM with single-engine upper stage used for early Soviet unmanned lunar shots. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...

Associated Programs
  • Luna Soviet lunar probe series. Lunas were the first manmade objects to attain of escape velocity; to impact on the moon; to photograph the far side of the moon; to soft land on the moon; to retrieve and return lunar surface samples to the earth; and to deploy a lunar rover on the moon's surface. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ertel , Ivan D; Morse , Mary Louise; et al, The Apollo Spacecraft Chronology Vol I - IV NASA SP-4009, NASA, 1966-1974. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Varfolomyev, Timothy, "Soviet Rocketry that Conquered Space - Part 3", Spaceflight, 1996, Volume 38, page 206.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Melnik, T G, Voenno-Kosmicheskiy Siliy, Nauka, Moscow, 1997..
  • NASA Report, Astronautics information - lunik iii. soviet news coverage of the launching of the third soviet cosmic rocket, october 4-30, 1959, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Baikonur Russia's largest cosmodrome, the only one used for manned launches and with facilities for the larger Proton, N1, and Energia launch vehicles. The spaceport ended up on foreign soil after the break-up of Soviet Union. The official designations NIIP-5 and GIK-5 are used in official Soviet histories. It was also universally referred to as Tyuratam by both Soviet military staff and engineers, and the US intelligence agencies. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union the Russian Federation has insisted on continued use of the old Soviet 'public' name of Baikonur. In its Kazakh (Kazak) version this is rendered Baykonur. More...

Luna E-3 Chronology


1959 October 4 - . 00:43 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. LV Configuration: Vostok-L 8K72 I1-8.
  • Luna 3 - . Payload: E-2A s/n 1. Mass: 279 kg (615 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MVS. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-3. Decay Date: 1960-04-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 21 . COSPAR: 1959-Theta-1. Apogee: 499,998 km (310,683 mi). Perigee: 500 km (310 mi). Inclination: 55.0000 deg. Period: 21,563.20 min. 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).

1960 April 15 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. LV Configuration: Vostok-L 8K72 L1-9. FAILURE: The third stage RO-5 engine either did not reach full thrust or shut down early.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Luna failure - third stage insufficient delta V - . Payload: E-3 s/n 1. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-3. Decay Date: 1960-04-15 . COSPAR: F600415A. Summary: Reached an altitude of 200,000 km before plunging back to earth..

1960 April 16 - . 16:07 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Luna 8K72. LV Configuration: Vostok-L 8K72 L1-9A. 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.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Luna failure at lift-off - . Payload: E-3 s/n 2. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-3. Decay Date: 1960-04-16 . COSPAR: F600419A. Summary: 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..

1962 October 22 - .
  • Soviet lunar photographs analysed - . Nation: USA. Program: Apollo. Spacecraft: Luna E-3. 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.

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