Luna 3

Luna 3, or E-2A No.1 was a Soviet spacecraft launched in 1959 as part of the Luna programme. It was the first-ever mission to photograph the far side of the Moon and the third Soviet space probe to be sent to the neighborhood of the Moon.[3] Though it returned rather poor pictures by later standards, the historic, never-before-seen views of the far side of the Moon caused excitement and interest when they were published around the world, and a tentative Atlas of the Far Side of the Moon was created after image processing improved the pictures.

These views showed mountainous terrain, very different from the near side, and only two dark, low-lying regions which were named Mare Moscoviense (Sea of Moscow) and Mare Desiderii (Sea of Desire). Mare Desiderii was later found to be composed of a smaller mare, Mare Ingenii (Sea of Ingenuity), and several other dark craters. The reason for this difference between the two sides of the Moon is still not fully understood, but it seems that most of the dark lavas that flowed out to produce the maria formed under the Earth-facing half.[4]

Luna 3 was followed by the United States with Ranger 7, Ranger 8, and Ranger 9.[4]

Luna 3
Lunik 3
Mission typeLunar flyby
OperatorOKB-1
Harvard designation1959 Theta 1
COSPAR ID1959-008A
SATCAT no.21
Mission duration18 days (launch day to last contact day)
Orbits completed14
Spacecraft properties
SpacecraftYe-2A No.1
ManufacturerOKB-1
Launch mass278.5 kilograms (614 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date4 October 1959, 00:43:39 UTC[1]
RocketLuna
Launch siteBaikonur 1/5
End of mission
Last contact22 October 1959
Decay date29 April 1960
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeHighly elliptical
(circumlunar)
Semi-major axis256,620.50 kilometres (159,456.59 mi)
Eccentricity0.97322501
Perigee500 kilometres (310 mi)
Apogee499,999 kilometres (310,685 mi)
Inclination55 degrees
Period359.38 hours
Epoch5 October 1959[2]
Flyby of the Moon
Closest approach6 October 1959, 14:16 UTC
Distance6,200 kilometres (3,900 mi)

Design

The space probe was a cylindric canister with hemispheric ends and a wide flange near the top. The probe was 130 cm long and 120 cm at its maximum diameter at the flange. Most of the cylindric section was roughly 95 cm in diameter. The canister was hermetically sealed and pressurized to about 0.22 atmosphere (23 kilopascals). Several solar cells were mounted on the outside of the cylinder, and these provided electric power to the storage batteries inside the space probe.

Shutters for thermal control were positioned along the cylinder and opened to expose a radiating surface when the internal temperature exceeded 25 °C. The upper hemisphere of the probe held the covered opening for the cameras. Four antennas protruded from the top of the probe and two from its bottom. Other scientific equipment was mounted on the outside, including micrometeoroid and cosmic ray detectors, and the Yenisey-2 imaging system. The gas jets for its attitude control system were mounted on the lower end of the spacecraft. Several photoelectric cells helped maintain orientation with respect to the Sun and the Moon.

There were no rocket motors for course corrections.

Its interior held the cameras and the photographic film processing system, radio transmitter, storage batteries, gyroscopic units, and circulating fans for temperature control. It was spin-stabilized for most of its flight, but its three-axis attitude control system was activated while taking photos. Luna 3 was radio-controlled from ground stations in the Soviet Union.

Mission

Soviet Union-1959-stamp-photo of moon
1959 USSR stamp commemorating first photographs of the far side of the Moon

After launching on a Luna 8K72 (number I1-8) rocket over the North Pole, the Blok-E escape stage was shut down by radio control to put Luna 3 on its course to the Moon. Initial radio contact showed that the signal from the space probe was only about one-half as strong as expected, and the internal temperature was rising. The spacecraft spin axis was reoriented and some equipment was shut down, resulting in a temperature drop from 40 °C to about 30 °C. At a distance of 60,000 to 70,000 km from the Moon, the orientation system was turned on and the spacecraft rotation was stopped. The lower end of the craft was pointed at the Sun, which was shining on the far side of the Moon.

The space probe passed within 6,200 km of the Moon near its south pole at the closest lunar approach at 14:16 UT on 6 October 1959, and continued on over the far side. On 7 October, the photocell on the upper end of the space probe detected the sunlit far side of the Moon, and the photography sequence was started. The first picture was taken at 03:30 UT at a distance of 63,500 km from the Moon, and the last picture was taken 40 minutes later from a distance of 66,700 km.

A total of 29 pictures were taken, covering 70% of the far side. After the photography was complete the spacecraft resumed spinning, passed over the north pole of the Moon and returned towards the Earth. Attempts to transmit the pictures to the Soviet Union began on October 8 but the early attempts were unsuccessful due to the low signal strength. As Luna 3 drew closer to the Earth, a total of about 17 viewable but poor quality photographs were transmitted by 18 October. All contact with the probe was lost on 22 October 1959. The space probe was believed to have burned up in the Earth's atmosphere in March or April 1960. Another possibility was that it might have survived in orbit until 1962 or later.

First gravity assist

Luna3-trajectory-eng
Luna 3 trajectory and the gravity assist maneuver

The gravity assist maneuver was first used in 1959 when Luna 3 photographed the far side of Earth's Moon. After launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Luna 3 passed behind the Moon from south to north and headed back to Earth. The gravity of the Moon changed the spacecraft's orbit; also, because of the Moon's own orbital motion, the spacecraft's orbital plane was also changed. The return orbit was calculated so that the spacecraft passed again over the Northern hemisphere where the Soviet ground stations were located. The maneuver relied on research performed under the direction of Mstislav Keldysh at the Steklov Institute of Mathematics.[5][6]

Lunar photography

Luna 3 moon
The first image returned by Luna 3 showed the far side of the Moon was very different from the near side, most noticeably in its lack of lunar maria (the dark areas)

The purpose of this experiment was to obtain photographs of the lunar surface as the spacecraft flew by the Moon. The imaging system was designated Yenisey-2 and consisted of a dual-lens camera AFA-E1, an automatic film processing unit, and a scanner. The lenses on the camera were a 200 mm focal length, f/5.6 aperture objective and a 500 mm, f/9.5 objective. The camera carried 40 frames of temperature- and radiation-resistant 35 mm isochrome film. The 200 mm objective could image the full disk of the Moon and the 500 mm could take an image of a region on the surface. The camera was fixed in the spacecraft and pointing was achieved by rotating the craft itself.

Luna 3 was the first successful three-axis stabilized spacecraft. During most of the mission, the spacecraft was spin stabilized, but for photography of the Moon, the spacecraft oriented one axis toward the Sun and then a photocell was used to detect the Moon and orient the cameras towards it. Detection of the Moon signaled the camera cover to open and the photography sequence to start automatically. The images alternated between both cameras during the sequence. After photography was complete, the film was moved to an on-board processor where it was developed, fixed, and dried. Commands from the Earth were then given to move the film into a flying spot scanner where a spot produced by a cathode ray tube was projected through the film onto a photoelectric multiplier. The spot was scanned across the film and the photomultiplier converted the intensity of the light passing through the film into an electric signal which was transmitted to the Earth (via frequency-modulated analog video, similar to a facsimile). A frame could be scanned with a resolution of 1000 (horizontal) lines and the transmission could be done at a slow-scan television rate at large distances from the Earth and a faster rate at closer ranges.

The camera took 29 pictures over 40 minutes on 7 October 1959, from 03:30 UT to 04:10 UT at distances ranging from 63,500 km to 66,700 km above the surface, covering 70% of the lunar far side. Seventeen (some say twelve) of these frames were successfully transmitted back to the Earth (tracking stations in Crimea and Kamchatka), and six were published (frames numbered 26, 28, 29, 31, 32, and 35). They were humankind's first views of the far hemisphere of the Moon.

The imaging system was developed by P.F. Bratslavets and I.A. Rosselevich at the Leningrad Scientific Research Institute for Television and the returned images were processed and analyzed by Iu.N. Lipskii and his team at the Sternberg Astronomical Institute. The camera AFA-E1 was developed and manufactured by the KMZ factory (Krasnogorskiy Mekhanicheskiy Zavod).

The film, temperature-resistant and radiation-hardened, came from American Genetrix balloons which had been recovered by the Soviets.[7]

See also

  • Chang'e 4, a Chinese December 2018 mission for a robotic probe/lander combination that landed on the Moon's far side, near the lunar south pole (3 January 2019)

References

  1. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  2. ^ McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 14 December 2014.
  3. ^ Harvey, Brian (2011). Russian space probes : scientific discoveries and future missions. New York: Springer. p. 158. ISBN 978-1-4419-8150-9.
  4. ^ a b "Exploring the Moon – The first robot explorers". Ianridpath.com. Retrieved 2013-11-06.
  5. ^ T. Eneev, E. Akim. "Mstislav Keldysh. Mechanics of the space flight". Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics (in Russian).
  6. ^ Egorov, Vsevolod Alexandrovich (1957) "Specific problems of a flight to the Moon", Physics - Uspekhi, Vol. 63, No. 1a, pages 73–117. Egorov’s work is mentioned in: Boris V. Rauschenbakh, Michael Yu. Ovchinnikov, and Susan M. P. McKenna-Lawlor, Essential Spaceflight Dynamics and Magnetospherics (Dordrecht, Netherlands: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 2002), pages 146–147. (The latter reference is available on-line at: Google Books.)
  7. ^ "Faxes From the Far Side". www.damninteresting.com. Retrieved 2015-10-23.

External links

1959 in spaceflight

Luna 1 was the first spacecraft to leave the gravitational influence of Earth. Also in 1959, Luna 2 was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of another celestial body, impacting the Moon, and Luna 3 returned the first images of the far side of the Moon.

1991 All England Open Badminton Championships

The 1991 Yonex All England Open was the 81st edition of the All England Open Badminton Championships. It was held from March 13 to March 17, 1991, in London, England.

It was a five-star tournament and the prize money was US$125,000.

Far side of the Moon

The far side of the Moon is the hemisphere of the Moon that always faces away from Earth. The far side's terrain is rugged with a multitude of impact craters and relatively few flat lunar maria. It has one of the largest craters in the Solar System, the South Pole–Aitken basin. Both sides of the Moon experience two weeks of sunlight followed by two weeks of night; the far side is sometimes called the "dark side of the Moon", meaning unseen rather than lacking light.About 18 percent of the far side is occasionally visible from Earth due to libration. The remaining 82 percent remained unobserved until 1959, when it was photographed by the Soviet Luna 3 space probe. The Soviet Academy of Sciences published the first atlas of the far side in 1960. The Apollo 8 astronauts were the first humans to see the far side with the naked eye when they orbited the Moon in 1968. All manned and unmanned soft landings had taken place on the near side of the Moon, until 3 January 2019 when the Chang'e 4 spacecraft made the first landing on the far side.Astronomers have suggested installing a large radio telescope on the far side, where the Moon would shield it from possible radio interference from Earth.

Gravity assist

In orbital mechanics and aerospace engineering, a gravitational slingshot, gravity assist maneuver, or swing-by is the use of the relative movement (e.g. orbit around the Sun) and gravity of a planet or other astronomical object to alter the path and speed of a spacecraft, typically to save propellant and reduce expense.

Gravity assistance can be used to accelerate a spacecraft, that is, to increase or decrease its speed or redirect its path. The "assist" is provided by the motion of the gravitating body as it pulls on the spacecraft. The gravity assist maneuver was first used in 1959 when the Soviet probe Luna 3 photographed the far side of Earth's Moon and it was used by interplanetary probes from Mariner 10 onwards, including the two Voyager probes' notable flybys of Jupiter and Saturn.

Libration

In astronomy, libration is the wagging of the Moon perceived by Earth-bound observers caused by changes in their perspective. It permits an observer to see slightly different halves of the surface at different times. It is similar in both cause and effect to the changes in the Moon's apparent size due to changes in distance. It is caused by three mechanisms detailed below, two of which are causing a relatively tiny physical libration via tidal forces exerted by the Earth. Such true librations are known as well for other moons with locked rotation.

The quite different phenomenon of a trojan asteroid’s movement has been called Trojan libration, and Trojan libration point means Lagrangian point.

List of lunar probes

This is a list of space probes that have flown by, impacted, orbited or landed on the Moon for the purpose of lunar exploration, as well as probes launched toward the Moon that failed to reach their target.

The crewed Apollo missions are listed at List of missions to the Moon.

Luna (rocket)

The Luna 8K72 vehicles were carrier rockets used by the Soviet Union for nine space probe launch attempts in the Luna programme between 23 September 1958 and 16 April 1960. Like many other Soviet launchers of that era the Luna 8K72 vehicles were derived from the R-7 Semyorka design (a variation of the Vostok), part of the R-7 (rocket family), which is also the basis for the modern Soyuz rocket.

The first flight of a Luna 8K72 (September 1958), which was to launch the Luna E-1 No.1 probe, ended 92 seconds after launch when the rocket broke up from longitudinal vibration (a.k.a. POGO), causing the strap-ons to separate from the vehicle, which then crashed downrange.The second flight of a Luna 8K72 (October 1958), which was to launch the Luna E-1 No.2 probe, ended 104 seconds after launch when the rocket again disintegrated from vibration.

The third flight of a Luna 8K72 (December 1958), which was to launch the Luna E-1 No.3 probe, ended 245 seconds after launch when the Blok A core stage shut down from loss of engine lubricant.

The resonant vibration problem suffered by the 8K72 booster was the cause of a major argument between the Korolev and Glushko design bureaus over the cause and solution to it. It was believed that the vibrations developed as a consequence of adding the Blok E upper stage to the R-7, shifting its center of mass.

Luna E-3 No.1

Luna E-3 No.1, sometimes identified by NASA as Luna 1960A, was a Soviet spacecraft which was lost in a launch failure in 1960. It was a 279-kilogram (615 lb) Luna E-3 spacecraft, the first of two to be launched, both of which were lost in launch failures. It was intended to fly around the Moon on a circumlunar trajectory in order to image the surface of the Moon, including the far side. The E-3 spacecraft were similar in design to the E-2A which had been used for the earlier Luna 3 mission. However, they carried higher resolution cameras, and were intended to make closer flybys.

Luna E-3 No.2

Luna E-3 No.2, sometimes identified by NASA as Luna 1960B, was a Soviet spacecraft which was lost in a launch failure in 1960. It was a 279-kilogram (615 lb) Luna E-3 spacecraft, the second of two to be launched, both of which were lost in launch failures. It was intended to fly around the moon on a circumlunar trajectory in order to image the surface of the Moon, including the far side. The E-3 spacecraft were similar in design to the E-2A which had been used for the earlier Luna 3 mission. However, they carried higher-resolution cameras, and were intended to make closer flybys.

Luna programme

The Luna programme (from the Russian word Луна "Luna" meaning "Lunar" or "Moon"), occasionally called Lunik or Lunnik by western media, was a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen were successful, each designed as either an orbiter or lander, and accomplished many firsts in space exploration. They also performed many experiments, studying the Moon's chemical composition, gravity, temperature, and radiation.

Twenty-four spacecraft were formally given the Luna designation, although more were launched. Those that failed to reach orbit were not publicly acknowledged at the time, and not assigned a Luna number. Those that failed in low Earth orbit were usually given Cosmos designations. The estimated cost of the Luna programme was about $4.5 billion.

Lunar mare

The lunar maria (singular: mare ) are large, dark, basaltic plains on Earth's Moon, formed by ancient volcanic eruptions. They were dubbed maria, Latin for "seas", by early astronomers who mistook them for actual seas. They are less reflective than the "highlands" as a result of their iron-rich composition, and hence appear dark to the naked eye. The maria cover about 16% of the lunar surface, mostly on the side visible from Earth. The few maria on the far side are much smaller, residing mostly in very large craters. The traditional nomenclature for the Moon also includes one oceanus (ocean), as well as features with the names lacus (lake), palus (marsh), and sinus (bay). The last three are smaller than maria, but have the same nature and characteristics.

The names of maria refer to sea features (Humorum, Imbrium, Insularum, Nubium, Spumans, Undarum, Vaporum, Procellarum, Frigoris), sea attributes (Australe, Orientale, Cognitum, Marginis), or states of mind (Crisium, Ingenii, Serenitatis, Tranquillitatis). Mare Humboldtianum and Mare Smythii were established before the final nomenclature, that of states of mind, was accepted, and do not follow this pattern. When Mare Moscoviense was discovered by the Luna 3, and the name was proposed by the Soviet Union, it was only accepted by the International Astronomical Union with the justification that Moscow is the state of mind.

Mare Desiderii

Mare Desiderii ("Sea of Dreams") was an area of the Moon named after Luna 3 returned the first pictures of the far side. This name is derived from the Russian Море Мечты, Mechta ("Dream") being the original name for the Luna 1 spacecraft.

This feature was later found to be composed of a smaller mare, Mare Ingenii (Sea of Ingenuity or Cleverness), and other dark craters. Today the IAU does not recognise the name Mare Desiderii.

Mare Moscoviense

Mare Moscoviense ("Sea of Moscow") is a lunar mare that sits in the Moscoviense basin. It is one of the very few maria on the far side of the Moon. Like Mare Marginis, this mare appears to be fairly thin. However, it is clearly centered within a large impact basin. It is also much lower than either the outer basin floor or the farside highlands.

The great depth of this mare beneath the nearby highlands probably explains why mare units are so rare on the lunar farside. Very few basins on the farside were deep enough to allow mare volcanism. Thus, while large impact basins are found on both the nearside and farside, large maria are mostly found on the nearside. Mare lavas apparently could reach the surface more often and more easily there. The basin material is of the Nectarian epoch, while the mare material is of the Upper Imbrian epoch. Following the SELENE mission, scientists proposed that volcanism in Mare Moscoviense was active for at least ~1.5 Ga following the formation of the Moscoviense basin, but the formation of the mare as the result of a meteorite cluster impact, rather than from volcanism, has also been proposed based on the energy required to melt the lava in Mare Moscoviense.At the center of the basin (or the southwest portion of the mare) is a mascon, or gravitational high. The mascon was first identified by Doppler tracking of the Lunar Prospector spacecraft.The crater Titov is in the northeastern region of the mare, and Tereshkova lies along the northern edge. The floor-fractured crater Komarov lies on the southeast edge of the mare. The Korolev basin is to the southeast of the mare, and the Freundlich-Sharonov Basin is to the east.

This region was named Mare Moscovrae after the first images of the far side were returned by Luna 3 in 1959. The name was approved by the IAU in 1961. The names of maria generally call up psychic states of mind, with a few exceptions. When Mare Moscoviense was discovered, and the name was proposed by the Soviet Union, it was only accepted by the International Astronomical Union with the justification that Moscow is a state of mind.

Micrometeoroid

A micrometeoroid is a tiny meteoroid; a small particle of rock in space, usually weighing less than a gram. A micrometeorite is such a particle that survives passage through the Earth's atmosphere and reaches the Earth's surface.

Mikhail Tikhonravov

Mikhail Klavdievich Tikhonravov (July 29, 1900 – March 3, 1974) was a Soviet aerospace engineer and scientist who was a pioneer of spacecraft design and rocketry.

Mikhail Tikhonravov was born in Vladimir, Russia. Attended the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy from 1922 to 1925, where he was exposed to Konstantin Tsiolkovsky's ideas of spaceflight. After graduation and until 1931 worked in several aircraft industries and was engaged in developing gliders. From 1931 and on, devoted himself to the development of the field of rocketry. In 1932, he joined Group for the Study of Reactive Motion, as one of the four brigade leaders. His brigade built the GIRD-09 rocket, fueled by liquid oxygen and jellied gasoline, and launched on August 17, 1933.

From 1938 Tikhonravov researched rocket engines with liquid fuel and developed rockets for the purpose of upper atmosphere layers’ research. In the end of the 1930s, the development of rockets with liquid fuel was stopped and Tikhonravov concentrated on the development of the projectiles of the weapon system Katyusha rocket launcher.

Tikhonravov remained in GIRD as it evolved into RNII, the jet propulsion institute, and then NII-1. In 1946, he became deputy chief of NII-4 in the Academy of Artillery Science and developed Project VR-190. Tikhonravov in 1948 proposed a type of multistage rocket in which the engines would work in parallel (packet) in order to achieve a greater flight range. His announcement was met with ridicule and skepticism by his scientific colleagues because at that time, it was believed that 1000 km was the absolute limit for rocket range. In NII-4 he led a team of researchers that did important studies on packet rockets, satellite orbital motion, optimal pitch control programs for launching into orbit, reentry trajectories and heat shielding. This team designed Sputnik-3, Luna-1, Luna-3, Luna-4 and the early Venus and Mars probes. In 1956, Sergey Korolev had Tikhonravov and his team transferred into his bureau, OKB-1.

After the launch of Sputnik-1 and a satellite with an animal on board, Tikhonravov (along with a number of other scientists) received the Lenin award (1957).

The classically educated Tikhonravov has been credited for coining and popularizing the term cosmonaut ("space traveller"), to be distinct from the English astronaut.Tikhonravov Crater on Mars is named after Mikhail Tikhonravov.

Moon landing

A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. This includes both manned and unmanned (robotic) missions. The first human-made object to reach the surface of the Moon was the Soviet Union's Luna 2 mission, on 13 September 1959.The United States' Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon, on 20 July 1969. There have been six manned U.S. landings (between 1969 and 1972) and numerous unmanned landings, with no soft landings happening from 22 August 1976 until 14 December 2013.

To date, the United States is the only country to have successfully conducted manned missions to the Moon, with the last departing the lunar surface in December 1972.

Soviet space program

The Soviet space program (Russian: Космическая программа СССР, Kosmicheskaya programma SSSR) comprised several of the rocket and space exploration programs conducted by the Soviet Union (USSR) from the 1930s until its collapse in 1991. Over its sixty-year history, this primarily classified military program was responsible for a number of pioneering accomplishments in space flight, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile (R-7), first satellite (Sputnik 1), first animal in Earth orbit (the dog Laika on Sputnik 2), first human in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on Vostok 1), first woman in space and Earth orbit (cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova on Vostok 6), first spacewalk (cosmonaut Alexey Leonov on Voskhod 2), first Moon impact (Luna 2), first image of the far side of the moon (Luna 3) and unmanned lunar soft landing (Luna 9), first space rover (Lunokhod 1), first sample of lunar soil automatically extracted and brought to Earth (Luna 16), and first space station (Salyut 1). Further notable records included the first interplanetary probes: Venera 1 and Mars 1 to fly by Venus and Mars, respectively, Venera 3 and Mars 2 to impact the respective planet surface, and Venera 7 and Mars 3 to make soft landings on these planets.

The rocket and space program of the USSR, initially boosted by the assistance of captured scientists from the advanced German rocket program, was performed mainly by Soviet engineers and scientists after 1955, and was based on some unique Soviet and Imperial Russian theoretical developments, many derived by Konstantin Tsiolkovsky, sometimes known as the father of theoretical astronautics. Sergey Korolev (also transliterated as Korolyov) was the head of the principal design group; his official title was "chief designer" (a standard title for similar positions in the USSR). Unlike its American competitor in the "Space Race", which had NASA as a single coordinating agency, the USSR's program was split among several competing design bureaus led by Korolev, Mikhail Yangel, Valentin Glushko, and Vladimir Chelomei.

Because of the program's classified status, and for propaganda value, announcements of the outcomes of missions were delayed until success was certain, and failures were sometimes kept secret. Ultimately, as a result of Mikhail Gorbachev's policy of glasnost in the 1980s, many facts about the space program were declassified. Notable setbacks included the deaths of Korolev, Vladimir Komarov (in the Soyuz 1 crash), and Yuri Gagarin (on a routine fighter jet mission) between 1966 and 1968, and development failure of the huge N-1 rocket intended to power a manned lunar landing, which exploded shortly after lift-off on four unmanned tests.

With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia and Ukraine inherited the program. Russia created the Russian Aviation and Space Agency, now known as the Roscosmos State Corporation, while Ukraine created the National Space Agency of Ukraine (NSAU).

Space probe

A space probe is a robotic spacecraft that does not orbit Earth, but instead, explores further into outer space. A space probe may approach the Moon; travel through interplanetary space; flyby, orbit, or land on other planetary bodies; or enter interstellar space.

The space agencies of the USSR (now Russia and Ukraine), the United States, the European Union, Japan, China, and India have collectively launched probes to several planets and moons of the Solar System, as well as to a number of asteroids and comets. Approximately 15 missions are currently operational.

Timeline of the Space Race

This is a timeline of first achievements in spaceflight from the first intercontinental ballistic missile through the first multinational human-crewed mission—spanning the era of the Space Race. Two days after the United States announced its intention to launch an artificial satellite, on July 31, 1956, the Soviet Union announced its intention to do the same. Sputnik 1 was launched on October 4, 1957, beating the United States and stunning people all over the world.

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