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Mars 1960B



Mars 1960B (also referred to as Marsnik 2), an intended Mars flyby mission, was either the Soviet Union's first or second attempt at a planetary probe, depending on whether the probe designated as 1960A, Marsnik 1 reputedly launched four days earlier was actually designed to go to Mars. The objectives of the mission were to investigate interplanetary space between Earth and Mars, to study Mars and return surface images from a flyby trajectory, and to study the effects of extended spaceflight on onboard instruments and provide radio communications from long distances. 290 seconds after launch, the third stage turbopumps were unable to develop enough pressure to commence ignition. Earth parking orbit was not achieved, and the spacecraft fell back to Earth. The cause was believed to be a failed valve on the ground, which allowed kerosene to freeze, so it could not flow into the turbopump.

Spacecraft and Subsystems

The spacecraft was nearly identical to the Venera 1 design, a cylindrical body about 2 meters high with two solar panel wings, a 2.33 meter high-gain net antenna, and a long antenna arm, and had a mass of about 650 kg. It carried a 10 kg science payload consisting of a magnetometer on a boom, cosmic ray counter, plasma-ion trap, a radiometer, a micrometeorite detector, and a spectroreflectometer to study the CH band, a possible indicator of life on Mars. These instruments were mounted on the outside of the spacecraft. A photo-television camera was held in a sealed module in the spacecraft and could take pictures through a viewport when a sensor indicated the Sun-illuminated martian surface was in view.

Attitude was controlled by a Sun-star sensor with attitude correction performed by a dimethylhydrazine/nitric acid binary propellant engine. The spacecraft orientation was to be maintained so that the solar panels faced the Sun throughout the flight. Power was provided by the two-square meter solar panels which charged silver-zinc batteries. Radio communications were made using a decimeter band transmitter via the high gain antenna for spacecraft commands and telemetry. Radio bearing was used to maintain the antennas orientation to Earth. Images were to be transferred using an 8-cm wavelength transmitter through the high-gain antenna. A fourth stage was added to the booster, the Molniya or 8K78, the new launcher was designated SL-6/A-2-e.

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

Alternate Names

  • 1M No.2
  • Korabl 5
  • Marsnik 2
  • Marsnik2

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1960-10-14
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 2nd Generation Upper Stage + Escape Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 640 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

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



NameRoleOriginal AffiliationE-mail

Selected References

  • Harvey, B., The new Russian space programme from competition to collaboration, John Wiley and Sons, Chichester, England, 1996.
  • Snyder, C. W., and V. I. Moroz, Spacecraft exploration of Mars, in Mars, Kieffer ed, U. of Arizona Press, 1992.
  • Varfolomeyev, T., The Soviet Mars programme, Spaceflight, 35, 230-231, July 1993.
  • Perminov, V. G., The difficult road to Mars - A brief history of Mars exploration in the Soviet Union, NASA, No. 15, Wash, DC, July 1999.
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