Encyclopedia Astronautica
Luna E-6



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Luna 9
Korolev / Lavochkin E-6M spacecraft as flown on Luna 9 first soft landing on the moon.
Credit: Andy Salmon
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Luna 9 Poster
luna9mos.jpg
Luna 9 Lander
Credit: © Mark Wade
luna9bus.jpg
Luna 9 Bus / E-6
Credit: NASA
luna13.jpg
Luna 13
Korolev / Lavochkin E-6M spacecraft as flown on Luna 13 with soil probe.
Credit: Andy Salmon
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Testing of E-6
Testing of E-6 Landing Bag
Credit: RKK Energia
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E-6 / Luna 9
Credit: RKK Energia
Russian lunar lander. 12 launches, 1963.01.04 (Sputnik 25) to 1966.01.31 (Luna 9). E-6 probes were designed by Korolev's OKB-1 with the objective of making the first soft landing on the moon and beaming back pictures of the surface.

Work began on the E-6 on 26 March 1960. The spacecraft consisted of:

  • KTDU, the midcourse correction / lunar braking engine module.

  • Two-part air bag system for landing the payload on the surface of the moon. The landed spacecraft itself was ejected from the main bus just above the surface; it was surrounded by this air bag to absorb the impact.

  • ALS Automatic lunar station, the lander itself. The petals of the outer carapace of this capsule opened like a flower, pushing the photo platform above the surface. It was a hermetically sealed container with radio equipment, a program timing device, heat control systems, scientific apparatus, power sources, and a television system. After landing the four petals opened outward and stabilized the spacecraft on the lunar surface. Spring-controlled antennas assumed operating positions, and the television camera rotating mirror system, which operated by revolving and tilting, began a photographic survey of the lunar environment.

During the flight to the moon the spacecraft was oriented by the KTDU's SAV astronavigation system. This used five sensors (two earth, two moon, one sun) to determine the orientation of the spacecraft in relation to these three celestial objects. At 8,300 km from the lunar surface the SAV was used to determine the local vertical in relation to the moon, gyroscopes were spun up and memorized the position. 75 km above the surface the KTDU ignited. At 25 km from the surface the landing bag inflated to one atmosphere pressure, and the main engine shut off. The landing bag was ejected by a sensor just before impact with the moon, and hit the surface at 15 m/s.

The spacecraft had a launch mass of 1,470 kg and the ALS original design mass was 82 kg.

Luna 9 had a mass on release from the upper stage of 1602 kg. The KTDU main engine had a thrust of 4500 kgf and 847 kg of propellant was loaded. A total of 6 seconds of burn time was allocated for mid-course maneuvers and 45 seconds for the lunar landing braking maneuver. After the braking maneuver, with the probe some distance over the lunar surface, the burn-out mass of the entire spacecraft was 430 kg. After the impact air bag had cushioned the final bouncing impact on the surface, the final mass of the probe on the surface was 79.5 kg The television camera aboard had a resolution of 15-20 mm on objects 2 m from the camera. Batteries provided power for five days of operation on the surface, with one hour of data transmissions back to earth per day.

In the modernized E-6M version the ALS mass was increased to 150 kg. There were 12 launches of the E-6 and E-6M, of which five experienced launch vehicle failures, four guidance system failures, and three resulted in successful landings.

At the end of 1965 all materials on the E-6 were passed to the Lavochkin Bureau, who took over from Korolev responsibility for all future lunar and planetary unmanned probes.

Gross mass: 1,422 kg (3,134 lb).
First Launch: 1963.01.04.
Last Launch: 1966.01.31.
Number: 12 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
Associated Engines
  • KTDU-5A Isayev Nitric acid/Amine rocket engine. 45.5 kN. Used on Luna E-6 probes. Out of Production. Isp=287s. First turbopump engine with surface tension propellant management devices in tanks, allowing re-ignition in zero-G. More...

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...
  • Molniya 8K78 Russian orbital launch vehicle. Four stage derivative of the R-7 ICBM developed on a crash-program basis in 1960 for Soviet lunar and planetary deep space probe missions. The third stage found later use in the Voskhod and Soyuz launchers. By the 1970's mature versions of the launch vehicle were used almost entirely for launch of Molniya communications satellites and Oko missile early warning spacecraft into elliptical, 12-hour earth orbits. More...
  • Molniya 8K78M Russian orbital launch vehicle. Improved Molniya, in variants with Blocks ML, 2BL, or SO-L third stages according to payload. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • Korolev Russian manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Korolev Design Bureau, Kaliningrad, Russia. More...
  • RVSN Russian agency overseeing development of spacecraft. Raketniye Voiska Stratigcheskovo Naznacheniya (Russian Strategic Rocket Forces), 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.
  • Semenov, Yuri P Editor, Raketno-kosmicheskaya korporatsiya 'Energia' imeni S P Koroleva, Moscow, Russia, 1996.
  • Varfolomyev, Timothy, "Soviet Rocketry that Conquered Space - Part 5", Spaceflight, 1998, Volume 40, page 85.
  • "Otmenenniy Start "Molniya-M"", Novosti Kosmonavtiki, 1997, Issue 1, page 29.
  • Air International, 1992, Issue 9, page 149.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Chertok, Boris Yevseyevich, Raketi i lyudi, Mashinostroenie, Moscow, 1994-1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Kamanin, N P, Skritiy kosmos, Infortext, Moscow, 1995.
  • Siddiqi, Asif A, The Soviet Space Race With Apollo, University Press of Florida, 2003.
  • NASA Report, Soviet Press Communiques and the Pravda Editorial on "Luna-9" Soft Landing on the Moon, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Highlights of the Press Conference at the Moscow House of Scientists on 10 February 1966, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Scientific results of processing of panoramas obtained from photographs of the lunar surface taken from ''Luna-9'', Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Scientific results of processing of panoramas obtained from photographs of the lunar surface taken from ''Luna-9'', Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Stratified and faceted shapes on panoramas obtained from the station Luna-9, 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-6 Chronology


1959 December 10 - .
  • Further development of Soviet Lunar and Planetary probes approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Mars 1M; Luna E-6. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 1386-618 'On the Creation of AMS for Landing on the Moon. and Flights to Venus and Mars-- approving automated lunar and interplanetary spacecraft' was issued..

1962 March 23 - .
  • Luna E-6 soft lander approved. - . Nation: USSR. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Summary: Central Committee of the Communist Party and Council of Soviet Ministers Decree 'On Luna spacecraft for soft-landing on the Moon' was issued..

1963 January 4 - . 08:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78/E6. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78/E6 T103-09. FAILURE: The escape stage's BOZ unit failed to operate due to failure of a DC transformer of the power system. The stage with payload remained in Earth orbit.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Sputnik 25 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 1. Nation: USSR. Agency: Korolev. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1963-01-05 . USAF Sat Cat: 522 . COSPAR: 1963-001B. Apogee: 189 km (117 mi). Perigee: 165 km (102 mi). Inclination: 64.6000 deg. Period: 88.00 min.

1963 February 3 - . 09:29 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78/E6. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78/E6 G103-10. FAILURE: Upper stage gyro platform failure.. Failed Stage: G.
  • E-6 s/n 2 failure. - . Payload: E-6 s/n 2. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1963-02-03 . COSPAR: F630203A. Summary: Apparent causes were instabilities in the torque sensor circuit and the pitch-free floating gyro device. The upper stages and payload broke up on re-entry into the atmosphere over the Pacific..

1963 April 2 - . 08:16 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78/E6. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78/E6 G103-11.
  • Luna 4 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 3. Mass: 1,422 kg (3,134 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1963-04-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 563 . COSPAR: 1963-008A. Apogee: 182 km (113 mi). Perigee: 167 km (103 mi). Inclination: 64.7000 deg. Period: 87.98 min. Luna 4 was the second attempted Soviet unmanned lunar soft lander probe. The spacecraft, rather than being sent on a straight trajectory toward the Moon, was placed first in an earth parking orbit. The rocket stage then reignited and put the spaccecraft on a translunar trajectory. Failure of Luna 4 to make a required midcourse correction resulted in it missing the Moon by 8336.2 km on April 6, at 4:26 a.m. Moscow time. It thereafter entered a barycentric Earth orbit. The Soviet news agency, Tass, reported that data had been received from the spacecraft throughout its flight and that radio communication would continue for a few more days.

1964 March 21 - . 08:15 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M T15000-20. FAILURE: Failure. Failed Stage: U.
  • Luna failure - . Payload: E-6 s/n 4. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1964-03-21 . COSPAR: F640321A. Summary: The upper stages burnt on re-entry into the atmosphere..

1964 April 20 - . 08:08 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M T15000-21. FAILURE: Power failure caused upper stage shutdown at T+340 seconds.. Failed Stage: U.
  • Luna failure - . Payload: E-6 s/n 5. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1964-04-20 . COSPAR: F640420A. Summary: The upper stages broke up on re-entry into the atmosphere...

During 1965 - . LV Family: GR-1; N1; R-9; RT-2. Launch Vehicle: RT-1.
  • N1 development issues - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Pilyugin; Korolev; Raushenbakh. Program: Lunar L3. Spacecraft: Luna E-6; LK; Soyuz 7K-LOK. There were two camps on the N1-L3 control systems. One group was within OKB-1, and had developed the systems for the Vostok and Zenit spacecraft, under the personal oversight of Korolev. They stressed the maximum quality and reliability in their systems. The second group had worked with Pilyugin, and had designed the systems for the Mars, Venus, Luna E-6 probes, the R-9, RT-1, RT-2, and GR-1 missiles; and piloted spacecraft. Their design emphasis was on maximum usability and output. Pilyugin had been named chief designer of the control system for the N1-L3. Additional Details: here....

1965 March 2 - .
  • Babakin takes over Lavochkin OKB - . Nation: USSR. Related Persons: Chelomei; Korolev; Babakin. Program: Lunar L3. Class: Manned. Type: Manned space station. Spacecraft: Luna E-6; Luna Ye-8. Former Lavochkin bureau, part of Chelomei, regained status of a separate design bureau with former Korolev deputy GN Babakin as its head. By the end of 1965 all materials on the E-6, Ye-8, and planetary probes were passed by Korolev to the Lavochkin Bureau, who took over responsibility for all future lunar and planetary unmanned probes.

1965 March 12 - . 09:30 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78/E6. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78/E6 R103-25. FAILURE: The escape stage Block L's engine failed to ignite due to failure of a transformer in the power supply of the control system.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Cosmos 60 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 9. Mass: 6,530 kg (14,390 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-03-17 . USAF Sat Cat: 1246 . COSPAR: 1965-018A. Apogee: 248 km (154 mi). Perigee: 195 km (121 mi). Inclination: 64.7000 deg. Period: 88.90 min. Summary: The stage with the payload remained in Earth orbit as Kosmos-60..

1965 April 10 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 R103-26. FAILURE: Stage 3's engine 8D715K failed due to depressurization of the nitrogen pipeline of the LOX tank pressurization system of Block I.. Failed Stage: 3.
  • Luna failure - stage 3 engine failure. - . Payload: E-6 s/n 8. Nation: USSR. Agency: RVSN. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-04-10 . COSPAR: F650410A. Summary: The upper stages fell apart on re-entry into the atmosphere...

1965 May 9 - . 07:49 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M U103-30.
  • Luna 5 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 10. Mass: 1,474 kg (3,249 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-05-12 . USAF Sat Cat: 1366 . COSPAR: 1965-036A. Apogee: 219 km (136 mi). Perigee: 159 km (98 mi). Inclination: 64.8000 deg. Period: 88.27 min. Summary: Soft lunar landing attempt. The retrorocket system failed, and the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface at the Sea of Clouds. Western observers, among them England's Sir Bernard Lovell, correctly speculated that the craft's mission was a soft landing..

1965 June 8 - . 07:40 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M U103-31.
  • Luna 6 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 7. Mass: 1,440 kg (3,170 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. USAF Sat Cat: 1393 . COSPAR: 1965-044A. Attempted unmanned lunar soft lander. Tass reported that all onboard equipment was functioning normally. Two days into the flight, however, the spacecraft's engine failed to shut down following a midcourse correction. This failure caused Luna 6 to miss its target by 159,612.8 Km.

1965 September 4 - . Launch Site: Baikonur. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 s/n U103-27.
  • E-6 Launch Postponement - . Payload: E-6. Nation: USSR. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Summary: The launch was delayed due to malfunction of the RKS system of the Stages 1/2's control system during pre-launch service..

1965 October 4 - . 07:56 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC1. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-27.
  • Luna 7 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 11. Mass: 1,504 kg (3,315 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-10-07 . USAF Sat Cat: 1610 . COSPAR: 1965-077A. Summary: Lunar soft landing attempt. The Luna 7 spacecraft was intended to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. However, due to premature retrofire and cutoff of the retrorockets, the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface in the Sea of Storms..

1965 December 3 - . 10:46 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC31. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78 U103-28.
  • Luna 8 - . Payload: E-6 s/n 12. Mass: 1,550 kg (3,410 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1965-12-06 . USAF Sat Cat: 1810 . COSPAR: 1965-099A. Lunar soft landing attempt failed. Luna 8's objectives were to test a soft lunar landing system and scientific research. Weighing 1,552 kg (3,422 lbs), the spacecraft was following a trajectory close to the calculated one and the equipment was functioning normally. However, the retrofire was late, and the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface in the Sea of Storms. Tass reported that "the systems were functioning normally at all stages of the landing except the final touchdown." The mission did complete the experimental development of the star-orientation system and ground control of radio equipment, flight trajectory, and other instrumentation.

1966 January 31 - . 11:41 GMT - . Launch Site: Baikonur. Launch Complex: Baikonur LC31. LV Family: R-7. Launch Vehicle: Molniya 8K78M. LV Configuration: Molniya 8K78M U103-32.
  • Luna 9 - . Payload: E-6M s/n 13. Mass: 1,580 kg (3,480 lb). Nation: USSR. Agency: MOM. Program: Luna. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Luna E-6. Decay Date: 1966-02-03 . USAF Sat Cat: 1954 . COSPAR: 1966-006A. Soft landed on Moon; photographed surface for 3 days. Landed on Moon 3 February 1966 at 18:44:52 GMT, Latitude 7.08 N, Longitude 295.63 E - Oceanus Procellarum. The Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a lunar soft landing and to transmit photographic data to Earth. Seven radio sessions, totaling 8 hours and 5 minutes, were transmitted as were three series of TV pictures. When assembled, the photographs provided a panoramic view of the nearby lunar surface. The pictures included views of nearby rocks and of the horizon 1.4 Km away from the spacecraft.

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