Luna 1 spacecraft model

Luna 1 spacecraft model

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Credit: SPUTNIK/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Luna 1 spacecraft model (centre) in the upper-stage launch vehicle (rocket) used to place it in space. Its five antennae are shown here. Luna 1, an unmanned probe, was the first spacecraft in the Soviet Moon exploration programme. Launched on 2 January 1959, it was the first spacecraft to attain escape velocity from the Earth. It was intended to impact the Moon, but missed and became the first spacecraft to enter an independent orbit around the Sun. Discoveries made by Luna 1 include the absence of a lunar magnetic field, the existence and extent of the solar wind, and details of the Earth's radiation belts. Photographed in a Soviet museum in 1970.

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