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Luna 5



The Luna 5 automatic interplanetary station was designed to continue investigations of a lunar soft landing. The spacecraft carried an imaging system and a radiation detector. After launch fom Baikonur on 9 May 1965 at 7:49:37 UT and 5 successful communications sessions the spacecraft performed a midcourse correction maneuver on 10 May. Unfortunately a problem developed in a flotation gyroscope (it did not have enough time to warm up properly) in the I-100 guidance control unit and control was lost so the spacecraft began spinning around its main axis. It was brought back under control, but at the time of the next maneuver, the main retrorocket system failed due to a ground control error in calculating the setpoints, and the spacecraft, though still headed for the Moon, was far off its intended landing site. Problems again cropped up with the I-100 unit so a retrorocket burn could not take place and Luna 5 impacted the lunar surface some 700 km from the target point at about 19:10 UT on 12 May 1965, becoming the second Soviet probe to hit the Moon. A Soviet announcement gave the impact point as the Sea of Clouds at roughly 31 degrees S, 8 degrees W. (Although a later analysis gave a very different estimate of 8 degrees N, 23 degrees W.)

Alternate Names

  • Lunik 5
  • 01366
  • Luna5

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1965-05-09
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 1474 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science
  • Space Physics

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Lyubimov, G. P., Measurement of the intensity of cosmic radiation during the flights of automatic interplanetary stations Zond 1, Zond 2, Zond 3, Luna 5, Luna 6, NASA, ST-CR-IS-10655, Oct. 1967.
  • Lunik 5 and 6, TRW Space Log, TRW Systems, 5, No. 2, 55, Redondo Beach, Calif., 1965.
  • Shelton, W., Soviet space exploration - the first decade, Arthur Barker Ltd., Unnumbered, London, England, 1969.
  • Johnson, N. L., Handbook of soviet lunar and planetary exploration - volume 47 science and technology series, Amer. Astronau. Soc. Publ., 1979.
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