Lunokhod (Russian: Луноход, IPA: [lʊnɐˈxot], "Moonwalker") was a series of Soviet robotic lunar rovers designed to land on the Moon between 1969 and 1977. Lunokhod 1 was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.
The 1969 Lunokhod 1A (Lunokhod 0, Lunokhod No. 201) was destroyed during launch, the 1970 Lunokhod 1 and the 1973 Lunokhod 2 landed on the moon, and Lunokhod 3 (Lunokhod No. 205, planned for 1977) was never launched. The successful missions were in operation concurrently with the Zond and Luna series of Moon flyby, orbiter and landing missions.
The Lunokhods were primarily designed to support the Soviet manned moon missions during the Moon race. Instead, they were used as remote-controlled robots for exploration of the lunar surface and return its pictures after the successful Apollo manned lunar landings and cancellation of the Soviet manned moon programme.
The Lunokhods were transported to the lunar surface by Luna spacecraft, which were launched by Proton-K rockets. The moon lander part of the Luna spacecraft for Lunokhods was similar to the one for sample-return missions. The Lunokhods were designed by Alexander Kemurdzhian at Lavochkin.
Not until the 1997 Mars Pathfinder was another remote-controlled vehicle put on an extraterrestrial body. In 2010, nearly forty years after the 1971 loss of signal from Lunokhod 1, the NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter photographed its tracks and final location, and researchers, using a telescopic pulsed-laser rangefinder, detected the robot's retroreflector.
For mission safety, weeks before the manned mission on LK lander, an LK-R lander in unmanned L3 lunar expedition complex and two Lunokhod automated rovers would be sent to the Moon for preliminary study of surface around LK-R and LK sites, for work as radio beacons for precision landings of LK-R and LK, and for visual estimate of status of them. LK-R used as a reserve escape craft in case of disability to start from Moon of LK and Lunokhods used by cosmonaut for transfer to LK-R in necessity and for regular research. This manned version of Lunokhod were additionally equipped with oxygen stock with hose socket, standing pads and manual control for the cosmonaut in front part.
In mid-1968, at the facility KIP-10 or NIP-10 (КИП-10 or НИП-10) in the secret village Shkolnoye (ru:Школьное (Крым) - closed town Simferopol-28), near Simferopol, a lunodrom (лунодром - moondrome) was built. It covered an area of one hectare (120 meters by 70 meters) and was very similar to some parts of the lunar surface. It was constructed using more than 3,000 cubic meters of soil, and included 54 craters up to 16 m in diameter and around about 160 rocks of various sizes. The whole area was surrounded with bricks, painted in gray and black. It was used to analyze problems with the Lunokhod chassis and cosmonaut's skill to control one. Closed town Simferopol-28 contained the most significant tracking facility in the Soviet Union, having the largest number of antennas, the largest area, and the most personnel of any of the Soviet tracking facilities. The facility was one of a network of ten facilities which contain earth satellite vehicle tracking equipment and provide command/control for Soviet near-space civil and military events. Additionally, this facility supported all lunar programmes of the Soviet Union, in association with the Evpatoria Deep Space Tracking Facility.
At least four complete vehicles were constructed, with the serial numbers 201, 203, 204 and 205.
After years of secret engineering development and training, the first Lunokhod (vehicle 8ЕЛ№201) was launched on February 19, 1969. Within a few seconds the rocket disintegrated and the first Lunokhod was lost. The rest of the world did not learn of the rocket's valuable payload until years later. The failure resulted in the radioactive heat source, polonium 210, being spread over a large region of Russia.
After the destruction of the original Lunokhod, Soviet engineers began work immediately on another lunar vehicle. Lunokhod 1 (vehicle 8ЕЛ№203) was the first of two unmanned lunar rovers successfully landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of its Lunokhod programme. The spacecraft which carried Lunokhod 1 was named Luna 17. Lunokhod 1 was the first roving remote-controlled robot to land on another world.
Luna 17 was launched on November 10, 1970 at 14:44:01 UTC. After reaching Earth parking orbit, the final stage of Luna 17's launching rocket fired to place it into a trajectory towards the Moon (November 10, 1970 at 14:54 UTC). After two course correction manoeuvres (on November 12 and 14) it entered lunar orbit on November 15, 1970 at 22:00 UTC.
The spacecraft soft-landed on the Moon in the Sea of Rains on November 17, 1970 at 03:47 UTC. The lander had dual ramps from which the payload, Lunokhod 1, could descend to the surface. At 06:28 UT the rover moved down the ramps and onto the Moon.
To be able to work in a vacuum a special fluoride based lubricant was used for the rover's mechanical parts, and the electric motors, one in each wheel hub, were enclosed in pressurised containers.
The rover ran during the lunar day, stopping occasionally to recharge its batteries using its solar panels. At night, it hibernated until the next sunrise, heated by the radioisotope heater unit.
Lunokhod 1 was a lunar vehicle formed of a tub-like compartment with a large convex lid on eight independently-powered wheels. Its length was 2.3 metres. It was equipped with a cone-shaped antenna, a highly directional helical antenna, four television cameras, and special extendable devices to impact the lunar soil for density measurements and mechanical property tests.
An X-ray spectrometer, X-ray telescope, Cosmic Ray Detector, and a laser device were also included. The vehicle was powered by batteries which were recharged during the lunar day by a solar cell array mounted on the underside of the lid. During the lunar nights, the lid was closed and a polonium-210 heat source kept the internal components at operating temperature.
The rover stood 135 cm (4 ft 5 in) high and had a mass of 840 kg (1,850 lb). It was about 170 cm (5 ft 7 in) long and 160 cm (4 ft 11 in) wide and had eight wheels each with an independent suspension, motor and brake. The rover had two speeds, approximately 1 and 2 km/h (0.6 and 1.2 mph).
The rover's payload included cameras (two television and four panoramic telephotometers), a RIFMA X-ray fluorescence spectrometer, an RT-1 X-ray telescope, a PrOP odometer/penetrometer, a RV-2N radiation detector, and a TL laser retroreflector.
Lunokhod 2 (vehicle 8ЕЛ№204) was the second and more advanced of the two Lunokhod rovers. The launcher put the spacecraft into Earth parking orbit on January 8, 1973, followed by a translunar injection. On January 12, 1973, Luna 21 was braked into a 90 by 100 km (56 by 62 miles) lunar orbit.
The Luna 21 spacecraft landed on the Moon to deploy the second Soviet lunar rover, Lunokhod 2. The primary objectives of the mission were to collect images of the lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study mechanical properties of the lunar surface material.
The landing occurred on January 15, 1973 at 23:35 UT in Le Monnier crater (25.85 degrees N, 30.45 degrees E).
After landing the Lunokhod 2 took television images of the surrounding area, then rolled down a ramp to the surface at 01:14 UT on 1973-01-16. It then took pictures of the Luna 21 lander and landing site.
The rover was equipped with three slow-scan television cameras, one mounted high on the rover for navigation, which could return high resolution images at different rates—3.2, 5.7, 10.9 or 21.1 seconds per frame (not frames per second). These images were used by the five-man team of controllers on Earth who sent driving commands to the rover in real time. There were four panoramic cameras mounted on the rover.
Power was supplied by a solar panel on the inside of a round hinged lid which covered the instrument bay, which would charge the batteries when opened. A polonium-210 radioactive heat source was used to keep the rover warm during the long lunar nights.
Scientific instruments included a soil mechanics tester, solar X-ray experiment, an astrophotometer to measure visible and ultraviolet light levels, a magnetometer deployed in front of the rover on the end of a 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in) boom, a radiometer, a photodetector (Rubin-1) for laser detection experiments, and a French-supplied laser corner reflector.
During its 322 Earth days of operations, Lunokhod 1 travelled 10.5 km (6.5 miles) and returned more than 20,000 television images and 206 high-resolution panoramas. In addition, it performed twenty-five soil analyses with its RIFMA x-ray fluorescence spectrometer and used its penetrometer at 500 different locations.
Lunokhod 2 operated for about four months, covered 42 km (26 miles) of terrain, including driving into hilly upland areas and rilles. Lunokhod 2 held the record for the longest distance of surface travel of any extraterrestrial vehicle until 2014. It sent back 86 panoramic images and over 80,000 television pictures. Many mechanical tests of the moon's surface, laser ranging measurements, and other experiments were completed during this time.
For comparison, the similarly sized NASA Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity had, by their fifth anniversary in January 2009, traveled a total of 21 km (13 miles) and transmitted over 125,000 images.
According to a French documentary television film Tank on the Moon by Jean Afanassieff, the Lunokhod design returned to the limelight 15 years later due to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster on April 26, 1986. The East German-built remote controlled bulldozers available to Soviet civil defense troops weighed dozens of tons – too heavy to operate on the remaining parts of the partially collapsed reactor building roof. Human labourers could not be employed to shovel debris since work shifts were limited to 90-second intervals due to intense ionizing radiation.
Lunokhod designers were called back from retirement, and in two weeks rovers were made which used nuclear decay heat sources for internal rack climate control, their electronic systems were already hardened to partly resist radiation. This benefit allowed the 1986 designers to quickly devise a derived vehicle type for nuclear disaster recovery work. On July 15, two rovers, called STR-1, were delivered to the Chernobyl accident zone and proved useful for clearing debris, earning awards for the designers. Due to extremely high radiation levels, both STR-1 rovers eventually failed, and human workers (later named liquidators) were called in once again.
Until 2010, the final location of Lunokhod 1 was uncertain by a few kilometers. Lunar laser ranging experiments had failed to detect a return signal from its retroreflector since the 1970s. On March 17, 2010, Albert Abdrakhimov found both the lander and the rover in Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter image M114185541RC. On April 22, Tom Murphy (UCSD) and Russet McMillan at the Apache Point Observatory detected the robot's retroreflector using the Apache Point telescopic pulsed-laser rangefinder.
Lunokhod 2 continues to be detected by lunar laser ranging experiments and its position is known to sub-metre accuracy. Ownership of Lunokhod 2 and the Luna 21 lander was sold by the Lavochkin Association for US$68,500 in December 1993 at a Sotheby's auction in New York (although the catalogue incorrectly lists lot 68A as Luna 17/Lunokhod 1). The buyer was computer gaming entrepreneur and astronaut's son Richard Garriott, who is also known by the name of his gaming character Lord British. Garriott stated in a 2001 interview: "I purchased Lunakod 21 [sic] from the Russians. I am now the world's only private owner of an object on a foreign celestial body. Though there are international treaties that say no government shall lay claim to geography off planet earth, I am not a government. Summarily, I claim the moon in the name of Lord British!" In 2007, Garriott said he is still the owner of Lunokhod 2.
Media related to Lunokhod program at Wikimedia Commons
Alexander Leonovich Kemurdzhian (Armenian: Ալեքսանդր Լևոնի Քեմուրջյան, Russian: Алекса́ндр Лео́нович Кемурджиа́н; 4 October 1921 – 25 February 2003) was a pioneering scientist, of Armenian heritage, in the space flight program of the Soviet Union. As chief engineer-designer at the VNIITransMash, he designed the first rovers to explore another world - the Soviet Lunokhod rovers - making him the founder of the space transport machine-engineering science.Chernobyl (miniseries)
Chernobyl is a historical drama television miniseries created and written by Craig Mazin and directed by Johan Renck. The series was produced by HBO in association with Sky UK, depicting the Chernobyl nuclear disaster of April 1986 and the unprecedented cleanup efforts that followed. It features an ensemble cast led by Jared Harris, Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, and Paul Ritter. The series premiered in the United States and the United Kingdom on May 6–7, 2019 and was acclaimed by critics.Euroluna
The European Lunar Exploration Association (Euroluna) is a Danish-Italian-Swiss team led by Palle Haastrup, which is participating in the Google Lunar X Prize Challenge.Exploration of the Moon
The physical exploration of the Moon began when Luna 2, a space probe launched by the Soviet Union, made an impact on the surface of the Moon on September 14, 1959. Prior to that the only available means of exploration had been observation from Earth. The invention of the optical telescope brought about the first leap in the quality of lunar observations. Galileo Galilei is generally credited as the first person to use a telescope for astronomical purposes; having made his own telescope in 1609, the mountains and craters on the lunar surface were among his first observations using it.
NASA's Apollo program was the first, and to date only, mission to successfully land humans on the Moon, which it did six times. The first landing took place in 1969, when astronauts placed scientific instruments and returned lunar samples to Earth.Lavochkin
NPO Lavochkin (Russian: НПО Лавочкина, OKB-301, also called Lavochkin Research and Production Association or shortly Lavochkin Association, LA) is a Russian aerospace company. It is a major player in the Russian space program, being the developer and manufacturer of the Fregat upper stage, as well as interplanetary probes such as Fobos-Grunt. As of 2015, it was headed by Sergei Lemeshevskii. On August 10, 2017 the Lavochkin Association's Board of Directors appointed Vladimir Kolmykov Director General of the enterprise.Luna 17
Luna 17 (Ye-8 series) was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 17.Luna 21
Luna 21 (Ye-8 series) was an unmanned space mission, and its spacecraft, of the Luna program, also called Lunik 21, in 1973. The spacecraft landed on the Moon and deployed the second Soviet lunar rover, Lunokhod 2. The primary objectives of the mission were to collect images of the lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study mechanical properties of the lunar surface material.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 Laser Ranging experiment
The ongoing Lunar Laser Ranging experiment or Apollo landing mirror measures the distance between surfaces of Earth and the Moon using laser ranging. Lasers at observatories on Earth are aimed at retroreflectors planted on the Moon during the Apollo program (11, 14, and 15), and the two Lunokhod missions. Laser light pulses are transmitted and reflected back to Earth, and the round-trip duration is measured. The lunar distance is calculated from this value.Lunokhod 2
Lunokhod 2 (Russian: Луноход-2, moon walker) was the second of two unmanned lunar rovers landed on the Moon by the Soviet Union as part of the Lunokhod programme.
The Luna 21 spacecraft landed on the Moon and deployed the second Soviet lunar rover, Lunokhod 2, in January 1973. The primary objectives of the mission were to collect images of the lunar surface, examine ambient light levels to determine the feasibility of astronomical observations from the Moon, perform laser ranging experiments from Earth, observe solar X-rays, measure local magnetic fields, and study the soil mechanics of the lunar surface material.Mikhail Yangel
Mikhail Kuzmich Yangel (Russian: Михаил Кузьмич Янгель; November 7, 1911 – October 25, 1971), was a leading missile designer in the Soviet Union.Outline of the Moon
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to the Moon:
Moon – Earth's only permanent natural satellite. It is one of the largest natural satellites in the Solar System, and the largest among planetary satellites relative to the size of the planet that it orbits (its primary). It is the second-densest satellite among those whose densities are known (after Jupiter's satellite Io).Outline of transport
The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to transport:
Transport or transportation – movement of people and goods from one place to another.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 60-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 Alexei 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).Soyuz programme
The Soyuz programme ( SOY-yooz, SAW-; Russian: Союз [sɐˈjus], meaning "Union") is a human spaceflight programme that was initiated by the Soviet Union in the early 1960s, originally part of a Moon landing project intended to put a Soviet cosmonaut on the Moon. It was the third Soviet human spaceflight programme after the Vostok and Voskhod programme.
The programme consists of the Soyuz spacecraft and the Soyuz rocket and is now the responsibility of the Russian Roscosmos. Since the retirement of the American Space Shuttle in 2011, all human spaceflights to and from the International Space Station have been carried out using Soyuz.Tank on the Moon
Tank on the Moon is a French 2007 documentary film about the development, launch, and operation of the Soviet Moon exploration rovers, Lunokhod 1 and Lunokhod 2 in the period from 1970 to 1973. The film uses historical footage from American, Russian and French archives featuring Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Gagarin, Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy, Nikita Khrushchev, Sergei Korolev, Alexei Kosygin, Alexei Leonov, Sam Rayburn and many other contemporary figures. A special emphasis is placed on the Lunokhods' chief designer, Alexander Kemurdjian.Vladimir Chelomey
Vladimir Nikolayevich Chelomey (Ukrainian: Володимир Миколайович Челомей; Russian: Влади́мир Никола́евич Челоме́й; 30 June 1914 – 8 December 1984) was a Soviet mechanics scientist, aviation and missile engineer. He invented the very first Soviet pulse jet engine and was responsible for the development of the world's first anti-ship cruise missiles and ICBM complexes like the UR-100, UR-200, UR-500 and UR-700.Voskhod programme
The Voskhod programme (Russian: Восхо́д, IPA: [vɐsˈxot], Ascent or Dawn) was the second Soviet human spaceflight project. Two one-day manned missions were flown using the Voskhod spacecraft and rocket, one in 1964 and one in 1965, and two dogs flew on a 22-day mission in 1966.
Voskhod development was both a follow-on to the Vostok programme and a recycling of components left over from that programme's cancellation following its first six flights. The Voskhod programme was superseded by the Soyuz programme.Vostok programme
The Vostok programme (Russian: Восто́к, IPA: [vɐˈstok], Orient or East) was a Soviet human spaceflight project to put the first Soviet citizens into low Earth orbit and return them safely. Competing with the United States Project Mercury, it succeeded in placing the first human into space, Yuri Gagarin, in a single orbit in Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961. The Vostok capsule was developed from the Zenit spy satellite project, and its launch rocket was adapted from the existing R-7 Semyorka intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) design. The name "Vostok" was treated as classified information until Gagarin's flight was first publicly disclosed to the world press.
The programme carried out six crewed spaceflights between 1961 and 1963. The longest flight lasted nearly five days, and the last four were launched in pairs, one day apart. This exceeded Project Mercury's demonstrated capabilities of a longest flight of just over 34 hours, and of single missions.
Vostok was succeeded by two Voskhod programme flights in 1964 and 1965, which used three- and two-man modifications of the Vostok capsule and a larger launch rocket.