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Luna 2 #OnThisDay

On 12th of September 1959 the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics), launched Luna 2. It was to be the first spacecraft to impact on the moon.

credit NASA/NSSDCA (public domain)

It was launched by the Luna 8K72 s/n I1-7B rocket on a direct path to the moon.

“After launch at 6:39:42 UT on 12 September 1959 and attainment of escape velocity, Luna 2 separated from its third stage, which travelled along with it towards the Moon.

On 12 September at 18:42:42 UT the spacecraft released a bright orange cloud of sodium gas which aided in spacecraft tracking and acted as an experiment on the behaviour of gas in space.

On 14 September at 21:02:23 UT (1:02:23 a.m. September 15 Moscow Summer Time) radio signals from Luna 2 abruptly ceased, indicating it had impacted on the Moon, making it the first spacecraft to contact another solar system body.

The impact point, in the Palus Putredinus region, is very roughly estimated to have occurred at 0 degrees longitude, 29.1 degrees N latitude, most estimates give it as within the range 29 to 31 N, 1 W to 1 E.

Some 30 minutes after Luna 2, the third stage of its rocket also impacted the Moon at an unknown location.

The mission confirmed that the Moon had no appreciable magnetic field, and found no evidence of radiation belts at the Moon.” NASA

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