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Luna 20



Luna 20 was placed in an intermediate earth parking orbit and from this orbit was sent towards the Moon. It entered lunar orbit on February 18, 1972. On 21 February 1972, Luna 20 soft landed on the Moon at 3.7863 N, 56.6242 E in a mountainous area known as the Apollonius highlands near Mare Foecunditatis (Sea of Fertility), 120 km from where Luna 16 had impacted. While on the lunar surface, the panoramic television system was operated. Lunar samples were obtained by means of an extendable drilling apparatus. The ascent stage of Luna 20 was launched from the lunar surface on 22 February 1972 carrying 30 grams of collected lunar samples in a sealed capsule. It landed in the Soviet Union on 25 February 1972. The lunar samples were recovered the following day.

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

Alternate Names

  • Lunik 20
  • 05835
  • Luna20

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1972-02-14
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

  • Luna 20 sample return system detailed, Aviat. Week Space Technol., 96, No. 12, 20, Mar. 1972.
  • Vinogradov, A. P., Preliminary data on lunar soil collected by the Luna-20 unmanned spacecraft, Geochim. et Cosmochim. Acta, 37, No. 4, 721-729, Apr. 1973. (Presented at a Meeting of the Presidium of the U.S.S.R. Academy of Sciences, 11 May, 1972). (Trans. from Geokhimiya, 763-774, 1972).
  • Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley & 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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