Wednesday, March 1, 2023

First Human-Made Object to Make Contact with another Celestial Body

Luna 2 (Russian: Луна 2), originally named the Second Soviet Cosmic Rocket and nicknamed Lunik 2 in contemporaneous media, was the sixth of the Soviet Union's Luna programme spacecraft launched to the Moon, E-1 No.7. It was the first spacecraft to reach the surface of the Moon, and the first human-made object to make contact with another celestial body.

The spacecraft was launched on 12 September 1959 by the Luna 8K72 s/n I1-7B rocket. It followed a direct path to the Moon. In addition to the radio transmitters sending telemetry information back to Earth, the spacecraft released a sodium gas cloud so the spacecraft's movement could be visually observed. On 13 September 1959, it impacted the Moon's surface east of Mare Imbrium near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus.

Prior to impact, two sphere-shaped pennants with USSR and the launch date engraved in Cyrillic were detonated, sending pentagonal shields in all directions. Luna 2 did not detect radiation or magnetic belts around the Moon.

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