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Luna 19



Luna 19 was a Soviet Moon orbiting mission launched on 28 September 1971. It extended the systematic study of lunar gravitational fields and location of mascons (mass concentrations). It also studied the lunar radiation environment, the gamma-active lunar surface, micrometeoroid flux, magnetic field, and the solar wind. Photographic coverage via a television system was also obtained.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

Luna 19 was the first mission based on the third generation Ye-8LS orbiter bus. It had a launch mass of 5600 kg. The bus was similar to the descent stage of the Lunokhod lander missions, consisting of a collection of propellant tanks and rockets, topped by a disc-shaped platform. Two booms protruded radially from opposite sides holding conical antennas and a magnetometer. Mounted on the top platform was a pressurized, hermetically sealed container holding the scientific equipment. It had a hinged lid that would expose solar panels when opened. Luna 19 carried 2 television cameras, a Vega radar altimeter, and ARL gamma-ray spectrometer, an RV-2NLS radiation detector, a SIM-RMCh micrometeoroid detector, and an SG-59M magnetometer.

Mission Profile

Luna 19 was launched on a Proton-K booster and a Blok-D upper stage from Baikonur Cosmodrome on 28 September 1971 at 10:00:22 UT. It was placed in an intermediate Earth parking orbit and, from this orbit, was sent toward the Moon. After 2 mid-course corrections, the spacecraft reached the Moon and went into a 40.5 degree inclination, 141.2 x 133.9 km altitude orbit on 2 October. On 6 October a maneuver was attempted to put Luna 19 into its nominal orbit for imaging the Moon, but an orientation system error due to a faulty gyro caused the spacecraft to go into a higher-than-planned, 127 x 135 km orbit. The high-resolution imaging and radar altimeter plans were canceled, and the cameras were used for panoramic images of the Moon instead. Communications were lost on 1 November 1972 after over a year's operation and 4000 orbits. The orbit presumably decayed over the next year or less, resulting in an impact on the lunar surface at an unknown location.

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

Alternate Names

  • 05488
  • Luna19
  • Lunik 19

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1971-09-28
Launch Vehicle: Proton Booster Plus Upper Stage and Escape Stages
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 5600 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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