Luna 8

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Luna 8 (E-6 series) was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program. Also called Lunik 8, Luna 8 was launched with the probable mission of achieving a soft landing on the Moon. However, the retrofire was late, and the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface in Oceanus Procellarum. The mission did complete the experimental development of the star-orientation system and ground control of radio equipment, flight trajectory, and other instrumentation.

This, the eleventh Soviet attempt to achieve a lunar soft-landing, nearly succeeded. After a successful midcourse correction on 4 December, the spacecraft headed toward the Moon without any apparent problems. Just prior to the planned retro-fire burn, a command was sent to inflate cushioning airbags around the ALS lander probe. Unfortunately, a plastic mounting bracket apparently pierced one of the two bags. The resulting expulsion of air put the spacecraft into a spin of 12 degrees per second. The vehicle momentarily regained attitude, long enough for a 9-second retro-engine firing, but then lost it again. Without a full retro-fire burn to reduce approach velocity sufficient for a survivable landing, Luna 8 plummeted to the lunar surface and crashed at 21:51:30 UT on 6 December just west of the Kepler crater. Impact coordinates were 9°8' north latitude and 63°18' west longitude.

  • Launch Date/Time: 1965-12-03 at 10:48:00 UTC
  • On-orbit dry mass: 1550 kg

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