Russian space missions

This is a continuation of my post: Planetary Missions. While the earlier post was mostly biased towards NASA, this post is mostly about USSR’s missions.

I browsed through “Russian federal space agency” website sometime back and found information on many of their space missions. (OR)

I thought I will make a brief summary of my findings there. I was not aware of many of these missions until I read about them recently. As you can see, these were the ones which actually started the space age. I was excited to read about so many of these “first” in the world.

 World’s first:

  • January 2, 1839 : Louis Daguerre made ​​the first lunar photography.
    The first ever photo of the moon was taken by him. He invented the Diorama. (Link to the post)
  • October 4, 1957 :Top of the space age. From the Baikonur Cosmodrome in 22.28.34 Moscow time, the world’s first artificial satellite (satellite) – Sputnik 1, weighing 83.6 kg was launched. 01/04/1958 stopped flying.
    The 183-pound (83-kilogram) spacecraft whipped around the Earth every 98 minutes, transmitting a series of beeps. Sputnik means “companion” in Russian. (Link to the post)
  • November 3, 1957  : Laika – Dog, the first living creature to orbit the Earth.
    Part of the Sputnik program, Laika’s was launched with the Sputnik 2 craft, the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit.
    (Link to the post)


  • January 2, 1959 : From the cosmodrome “Baikonur”, the world’s first spacecraft to the Moon – AMC “Luna-1”, weighing 1472 kg was launched. Coming in 5 thousand miles from the Moon,  AMC came from Earth’s gravity and became the first artificial satellite of the Sun.
  • October 4, 1959  : AMC launched “Luna-3” – first in the world to photograph the Moon.
    Luna 3 was one of the first probes ever sent the Moon. And even though it launched on the heels of Sputnik, which certainly changed the way people around the world thought about space, Luna 3 brought another wave of change, as it was the first spacecraft to return images of the far side of the Moon. (Link to the post)
  • April 12, 1961  : Rocket – carrier “East” launched into orbit its first manned spacecraft “Vostok” with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. The world’s first human spaceflight. Spaceship created in OKB-1. Two-stage rocket made ​​in Kuibyshev.
    (More here)


  •  June 16, 1963 : Launched spacecraft “Vostok-6” which carried the world’s first female astronaut VVTereshkova.
    Tereshkova, selected from a field of over 400 candidates, was launched from the obscurity of a textile factory worker in her home city of Yaroslavl, into space for nearly three days. She returned, having orbited the earth 48 times, to be fêted as a true Soviet superstar. The nearly three days she spent in orbit amounted to more than the combined flying time of every American astronaut that had flown up to that point. (Link to the post). Also check this women in space photo gallery: Link.


  • February 3, 1966  : The world’s first AMC “Luna-9” soft-landed on the lunar surface and passed on February 4-5, the Ocean of Storms area of a circular panorama of the lunar landscape.
    Luna-9 was equipped with an airbag system that allowed it to crash into the Moon traveling more than 50 km/hour. The first soft landing was made by the US with Surveyor 1. It touched down on the surface of the Moon on June 2, 1966. (Link to the post). More about lunar missions here: Link
  • October 18, 1967  : For the first time in the world,  AMC “Venera-4” gradually descended into the atmosphere of Venus.
    The Soviet Venera (Venus) 3 was the first spaceship on Venus, crashing onto the surface on March 1, 1966. Although it was the first vehicle to impact on another planet, its communications system failed before it was able to return any data during descent.
    Venera 4 did better, entering the atmosphere on Oct. 18, 1967, and returning valuable data about the atmosphere while descending under parachute. The spacecraft’s instruments included two thermometers, a radio altimeter, a barometer, atmospheric density gauge, 11 gas analyzers, and two radio transmitters. The spacecraft continued to transmit data until contact was lost 15.5 miles (25 km) above the surface.
    It was not until 1970 that the Soviets successfully soft landed the first spaceship on Venus. Venera 7 entered the atmosphere on Dec. 15 and jettisoned its landing capsule. Aerodynamic breaking and a parachute system were used to slow the capsule down to landing speed. An antenna was deployed, and Venera 7 transmitted data during a 35-minute descent. (Link to post)
  • September 24, 1970  : For the first time in history,  spacecraft “Luna-16” brought lunar soil to Earth.
  • July 22, 1972 : The world’s first soft landing “Venera-8” to Venus and sending information back to Earth.


  • The first US spacecraft to impact the Moon was Ranger 7, which crashed into the Moon on July 31, 1964.  (Link to the post)
  • The first object from Earth to ever land on the Moon was the Soviet spacecraft Luna-2. It didn’t land, but actually crashed into the Moon on September 14, 1959. It impacted the lunar surface west of Mare Serenitatis near the craters Aristides, Archimedes, and Autolycus. Luna 2′s mission was to help confirm the discovery of the solar wind, turned up by Luna 1. (Link to the post)
  • Missions to Mercury and Venus: Link
  • April 19, 1975: Indian satellite Aryabhata and then in June 7, 1979  : “Bhaskar-1” were launched in Soviet ground by USSR.

P.S: Fixed some of the typos that I had made earlier.

8 thoughts on “Russian space missions

Add yours

  1. So, they have many firsts to their name. I was not aware of those Venus probes by Russia – I thought ppl never surveyed Venus! If it takes only 3 days to send an astronaut to space, I might as well go someday 🙂

    Destination Infinity


  2. My grand children might go there like I go to the US now! Interesting information, AK!

    When I was small, US itself was like moon now, for us! I remember my grand mother rejoicing when Yuri Gagarin reached moon…she was so happy hearing the information in the radio and then reading it in the Kannada newspaper. She was very particular about reading newspaper in those days! Time changes via every generation!


  3. Thanks for the informative post. I knew hardly a couple on this list.

    Though Russians are the pioneers of the space missions, it is always NASA we hear in the news. But yeah, most of these ‘firsts’ by Russia were during USSR period.


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