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Luna 1 spacecraft at the Moon, 1959

Luna 1 spacecraft at the Moon, 1959

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Credit

DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption

Luna 1 spacecraft at the Moon, 1959, computer artwork. Luna 1, an unmanned probe, was the first spacecraft of the Soviet Luna programme. It was the first spacecraft to attain escape velocity from the Earth, and was the first spacecraft to pass close to the Moon, passing within 6000 kilometres of the surface. Luna 1 was intended to impact the Moon, but missed and became the first spacecraft to enter an independent orbit around the Sun. Luna 1, which was launched on 2 January 1959, had five antennae (long rods). Discoveries made by Luna 1 include the absence of a magnetic field for the Moon, the presence of the solar wind, and details of the Earth's radiation belts.

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