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Luna 14



Luna 14 was a lunar orbiting mission launched by the Soviet Union. The main objective of the mission was to test communications systems between a spacecraft at the Moon and ground stations on Earth in preparation for the planned Soviet crewed lunar orbiter. Luna 14 also provided data for studies of the interaction of the Earth and lunar masses, the lunar gravitational field, the motion of the Moon, solar charged particles and cosmic rays, effects of ionizing radiation on human tissue, surface and ionospheric properties, and an engineering test of gear transmission systems in a vacuum.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The Luna 14 spacecraft was based on the Ye-6LS bus. It was largely identical to the Ye-6LF bus used on the Luna 10, 11, and 12 orbiters, but detailed information is lacking. The scientific module was apparently 15 cm higher on Luna 14 than the earlier Luna orbiters. With this in mind, the description below of the Ye-6LF bus probably applies in large part to Luna 14.

The Ye-6LF spacecraft bus was a cylindrically shaped spacecraft, 2.7 meters high and 1.5 meters in diameter. It had an upper cone holding the instrument module and radiators (which took the place of the lunar lander storage cabin on earlier missions), and a lower truncated cone holding the main engine. Launch mass was 1640 kg and on-orbit mass was 1136 kg.

It had a propulsion system, designated SS.5A, that comprised a main engine, propellant tank, attitude control engines, helium tank for pressurization, sensors, and avionics. The attitude control engines were mounted on outriggers near the bottom of the spacecraft. Power was supplied by a battery. A cone-shaped omnidirectional antenna, mounted on the side of the cylinder, was used for communications. An SL-2 radiometer was mounted on top of the instrument module to study corpuscular radiation (cosmic rays and charged solar particles).

The spacecraft could transmit radio waves at wavelengths of 32 cm and 1.7 meters. These were used for a bifrequency dispersion interferometer to study the electron concentration in the ionosphere. The 1.7 meter waves were also for a bistatic radar experiment to study the Moon's surface. It used careful radio tracking of the spacecraft to map the Moon's gravity field. An engineering technology experiment to study the efficiency of gears in a vacuum was also carried. It may have also carried an IK-2 Dosimeter to study the effects of ionizing radiation on human tissue.

Mission Profile

Luna 14 lifted off on 7 April 1968 at 10:09:32 UT from Baikonur Cosmodrome on a Molniya-M (modified SS) and Blok-L booster into an initial Earth orbit. After one mid-course correction on 8 April at 19:37 UT, the Luna 14 spacecraft entered a 160 x 870 km, 2 hour, 40 minute lunar orbit with an inclination of 42 degrees at 19:25 UT on April 10, 1968. The spacecraft operated for about 75 days and would have impacted the Moon some time later, although the date and location of impact are unknown. This flight was the final flight of the second generation of the Luna series.

Spacecraft image for illustrative purposes - not necessarily in the public domain.

Alternate Names

  • 03178
  • Luna14
  • Lunik 14

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1968-04-07
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 1700 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
Mr. Artem IvankovGeneral ContactLavochkin

Selected References

  • Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England, 1996.
  • 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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