[Luna 3 image of lunar farside]

Soviet Lunar Missions


The image at the top of the page is the first image of the far side of the Moon, taken by the Luna 3 spacecraft in October, 1959.

The Soviet Lunar program had 20 successful missions to the Moon and achieved a number of notable lunar "firsts": first probe to impact the Moon, first flyby and image of the lunar farside, first soft landing, first lunar orbiter, and the first circumlunar probe to return to Earth. The two successful series of Soviet probes were the Luna (24 lunar missions) and the Zond (5 lunar missions).

NSSDCA currently holds data from the Luna 3, 9, 13, 21, and 22 and the Zond 3, 6, 7, and 8 missions. All this data is photographic in nature, except for the lunar libration data from the Luna 21 Orbiter. Lunar flyby missions (Luna 3, Zond 3, 6, 7, 8) obtained photographs of the lunar surface, particularly the limb and farside regions. The Zond 6, 7, and 8 missions circled the Moon and returned to Earth where they were recovered, Zond 6 and 7 in Siberia and Zond 8 in the Indian Ocean. The purpose of the photography experiments on the lunar landers (Luna 9, 13, 22) was to obtain closeup images of the surface of the Moon for use in lunar studies and determination of the feasibility of manned lunar landings.

Lunar surface close-up image from the Luna 9 lander in February, 1966 in the Oceanus Procellarum.
[Luna 9 image of lunar surface]

Click on a mission name for information from the NASA Master Catalog.

The Luna Series

Luna 1

Launched 02 Jan 1959
Lunar Flyby

Luna 2

Launched 12 Sep 1959
Impacted Moon 14 Sep 1959 at ~07:30:00 UT
Latitude 29.10 N, Longitude 0.00 - Palus Putredinis

Luna 3

Launched 04 Oct 1959
Lunar Flyby

Luna 4

Launched 02 Apr 1963
Lunar Flyby

Luna 5

Launched 09 May 1965
Impacted Moon - Sea of Clouds

Luna 6

Launched 08 Jun 1965
Attempted Lander - Missed Moon

Luna 7

Launched 04 Oct 1965
Lunar Impact - Sea of Storms

Luna 8

Launched 03 Dec 1965
Lunar Impact - Sea of Storms

Luna 9

Launched 31 Jan 1966
Landed on Moon 03 Feb 1966 at 18:44:52 UT
Latitude 7.08 N, Longitude 295.63 E - Oceanus Procellarum

Luna 10

Launched 31 Mar 1966
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 11

Launched 24 Aug 1966
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 12

Launched 22 Oct 1966
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 13

Launched 21 Dec 1966
Landed on Moon 24 Dec 1966 at 18:01:00 UT
Latitude 18.87 N, 297.95 E - Oceanus Procellarum

Luna 14

Launched 7 Apr 1968
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 15

Launched 13 Jul 1969
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 16

Launched 12 Sep 1970
Landed on Moon 20 Sep 1970 at 05:18:00 UT
Latitude 0.68 S, Longitude 56.30 E - Mare Fecunditatis
Lunar Sample Return

Luna 17

Launched 10 Nov 1970
Landed on Moon 17 Nov 1970 at 03:47:00 UT
Latitude 38.28 N, Longitude 325.00 E - Mare Imbrium
Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 1

Luna 18

Launched 02 Sep 1971
Lunar Impact
Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 50.50 E - Mare Fecunditatis

Luna 19

Launched 28 Sep 1971
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 20

Launched 14 Feb 1972
Landed on Moon 21 Feb 1972 at 19:19:00 UT
Latitude 3.57 N, Longitude 56.50 E - Mare Fecunditatis
Lunar Sample Return to Earth 25 Feb 1972

Luna 21

Launched 08 Jan 1973
Landed on Moon 15 Jan 1973 at 23:35:00 UT
Latitude 25.85 N, Longitude 30.45 E - LeMonnier Crater
Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 2

Luna 22

Launched 02 Jun 1974
Lunar Orbiter

Luna 23

Launched 28 Oct 1974
Lunar Lander - Mare Crisium

Luna 24

Launched 14 Aug 1976
Landed on Moon 18 Aug 1976 at 02:00:00 UT
Latitude 12.75 N, Longitude 62.20 E - Mare Crisium
Lunar Sample Return

The Zond Series

Zond 3

Launched 18 July 1965
Lunar Flyby

Zond 4

Launched 2 Mar 1968
Lunar Test Flight

Zond 5

Launched 15 Sep 1968
Circumlunar
Returned to Earth 21 Sep 1968

Zond 6

Launched 10 Nov 1968
Circumlunar
Returned to Earth 17 Nov 1968

Zond 7

Launched 07 Aug 1969
Circumlunar
Returned to Earth 14 Aug 1969

Zond 8

Launched 20 Oct 1970
Circumlunar
Returned to Earth 27 Oct 1970


Many of the images of Soviet lunar and planetary spacecraft are from the Lavochkin Association.

 Soviet Mission Data held at NSSDCA
 Return to Lunar home page


[NASA Logo]
Author/Curator:
Dr. David R. Williams, dave.williams@nasa.gov
NSSDCA, Mail Code 690.1
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
Greenbelt, MD 20771
+1-301-286-1258


NASA Official: Ed Grayzeck, edwin.j.grayzeck@nasa.gov
Last Updated: 27 September 2005, DRW