Lunar and Planetary Institute

Luna Mission

The Luna Spacecraft.The Luna Program was one of two lunar exploration programs conducted by the Soviet Union. This was a very long-running program, with the first mission flying in 1959 and the last flying in 1976. The Luna missions were designed to collect information about the Moon and its environment, not only for scientific purposes but also to be used in the planning of future lunar missions including manned missions to the Moon. The series included flyby, lunar-orbiting, and soft-landing missions. Selected Luna missions are noted in the following list.

Mission Launch
Type of
Notes Additional Information
Luna 1 1/2/59 Lunar flyby Passed over the Moon at 5000-6000 kilometers on 1/4/59 Luna 1 Information at NSSDC
Luna 2 9/12/59 Lunar landing Impacted Moon 9/13/59 at 22:02:04 UT
Palus Putredinis, 29.10°N lat., 0.0° long.
Luna 2 Information at NSSDC
Luna 3 10/4/59 Lunar flyby Photographed the farside of the Moon on 10/7/59 Luna 3 Information at NSSDC
Luna 9 1/31/66 Lunar landing Landed on Moon 2/3/66 at 18:44:52 UT
Oceanus Procellarum, 7.08°N lat., 295.63°E long.
Luna 9 Information at NSSDC
Luna 10 3/31/66 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit on 4/3/66 Luna 10 Information at NSSDC
Luna 11 8/24/66 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit on 8/28/66 Luna 11 Information at NSSDC
Luna 12 10/22/66 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit on 10/25/66 and returned images Luna 12 Information at NSSDC
Luna 13 12/21/66 Lunar landing Landed on Moon 12/24/66 at 18:01:00 UT
Oceanus Procellarum, 18.87°N lat., 297.95°E long.
Luna 13 Information at NSSDC
Luna 14 4/7/68 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit on 4/10/68 Luna 14 Information at NSSDC
Luna 15 7/13/69 Lunar lander Crashed on Moon 7/21/69 at 15:51 UT
Mare Crisium,17°N lat., 60°W long.
Believed to have been an attempted sample-
return mission, similar to Luna 16, 20, and 24
Luna 15 Information at NSSDC
Luna 16 9/12/70 Lunar sample return Landed on Moon 9/20/70 at 05:18:00 UT
Mare Fecunditatis, 0.68°S lat., 56.30°E long.
Luna 16 Information at NSSDC
Luna 17 11/10/70 Lunar lander Landed on Moon 11/17/70 at 03:47:00 UT
Mare Imbrium, 38.28°N lat., 325.00°E long.
Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 1
Luna 17 Information at NSSDC
Luna 19 9/28/71 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit on 10/3/71 and returned images Luna 19 Information at NSSDC
Luna 20 2/14/72 Lunar landing Landed on Moon 2/21/72 at 19:19:00 UT
Mare Fecunditatis, 3.57°N lat., 56.50°E long.
Lunar sample return to Earth 2/25/72
Luna 20 Information at NSSDC
Luna 21 1/8/73 Lunar landing Landed on Moon 1/15/73 at 23:35:00 UT
Mare Serenitatis, 25.51°N lat., 30.38°E long.
Lunar Rover - Lunokhod 2
Luna 21 Information at NSSDC
Luna 22 6/2/74 Lunar orbiter Entered lunar orbit around 6/3/74 and returned images Luna 22 Information at NSSDC
Luna 24 8/14/76 Lunar sample return Landed on Moon 8/18/76 at 02:00:00 UT
Mare Crisium, 12.25°N lat., 62.20°E long.
Luna 24 Information at NSSDC
Sample Luna Photograph.
Although the Luna program experienced many ups and downs and failed to lead to a manned mission to the Moon, it also achieved many “firsts.” Among them were the first flyby of the Moon, the first impact on the Moon, the first photographs of the farside, the first soft landing, the first lunar satellite, the first analysis of lunar soil, the first sample return, and the first lunar rover deployment. These missions also were successful in performing remote sensing and photography of the Moon, operating two rovers on the lunar surface, and returning three sets of lunar samples.

Luna Mission Information at NSSDC

Additional Luna Mission Information

Soviet Moon Images


Surveyor Lunar Spacecraft