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Home > Space Exploration > Chronology > Luna

1959 - 1970
Luna Programme

Luna 1

The Luna programme consited in a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen of them were successful.

Among the greatest achievements of the Luna programme was a successfull impact upon the lunar surface by Luna 2 in 1959, becoming the first man-made object to reach the Moon and the returning of the first photographs of the far side by Luna 3 later that same year.

Another acheivement was made when Luna 1 missed its intended impact with the Moon and became the first spacecraft to fall into orbit around the Sun.


Luna 2 (left) and Luna 3 (right)

On February 1966 Luna 9 became the first probe to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. Later that year Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon.


Luna 9 (left) and Luna 10 (right)

Luna 17 and Luna 21 carried the first rovers which roamed around on the Moon's terrain while Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 collected samples of lunar soil and returned them to Earth, by 1970. In total the program returned 0.326 kg of lunar samples.


Luna 16 (left) and Luna 24 (right)

Location of Luna missions on the Moon (red triangles):

Credit: image by NASA, source:

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