Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Luna 9
Luna 9 (E-6 series), also known as Lunik 9 (internal name E-6 N. 13), was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. On February 3, 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft was the first spacecraft to achieve a lunar soft landing and to transmit photographic data to Earth.
The automatic lunar station that achieved the soft landing weighed 99 kg. It was a hermetically sealed container with radio equipment, a program timing device, heat control systems, scientific apparatus, power sources, and a television system. The Luna 9 payload was carried to Earth orbit by an A-2-E vehicle and then conveyed toward the Moon by a fourth stage rocket that separated itself from the payload. Flight apparatus separated from the payload shortly before Luna 9 landed.
After landing in the Ocean of Storms on February 3, 1966, the four petals, which formed the spacecraft, opened outward and stabilized the spacecraft on the lunar surface. Spring-controlled antennas assumed operating positions, and the television camera rotating mirror system, which operated by revolving and tilting, began a photographic survey of the lunar environment. Seven radio sessions, totaling 8 hours and 5 minutes, were transmitted as were three series of TV pictures.
When assembled, the photographs provided a panoramic view of the nearby lunar surface. The pictures included views of nearby rocks and of the horizon 1.4 km away from the spacecraft.
For unknown reasons, the pictures from Luna 9 were not released immediately by the Soviet authorities. Instead, the Jodrell Bank Observatory, which was monitoring the craft, noticed that the signal format used was identical to the internationally-agreed system used by newspapers for transmitting pictures. The Daily Express rushed a suitable receiver to the Observatory and the pictures from Luna 9 were decoded and published world-wide. Some people suspect that the craft's designers had fitted this equipment either to ensure that Jodrell Bank, which was superior to anything the Soviet authorities had access to at the time, would release the pictures without incurring the political embarrassment of having to ask for them, or else, to prevent the Soviet authorities from securing a similar propaganda victory to that following Gagarin's flight.. Perhaps the most important discovery of the mission was determining that a foreign object would not simply sink into the lunar dust, that is, that the ground could support a heavy lander. Last contact with the spacecraft was at 22:55 UT on 6 February 1966.

Launch date/time: 1966-01-31 at 11:45:00 UTC
In-orbit dry mass: 1580 kg

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