Sunday, September 13, 2009

50 YA- Luna 2

Soviet Luna 2 spacecraft

On September 12, 1959, The Soviet Union launched the second of its Luna series probes toward the Moon. The rocket used was the R-7, which was basically the same type rocket used to launch Sputnik. On the 13th, the Luna 2 probe separated from the third stage of the rocket, which travelled alongside it on the way to the Moon.

Its predecessor, Luna 1, had discovered evidence for the Solar Wind; Luna 2 confirmed the evidence of this discovery. It also provided information about the Van Allen Radiation belt discovered by the American space Probe Explorer 1. On its way to the Moon, the capsule expelled a cloud of orange sodium particles, which could be seen from Earth and helped scientists track its voyage.

Incidentally, during this time Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev was making his historic visit to the United States. Disney fans such as myself might remember that Walt Disney was looking forward to a potential visit of the Premier to Disneyland, when he would be able to proudly boast of his own "submarine fleet" ( the Submarine Ride at Disneyland). That visit did not occur due to security concerns.

On the 13th, Luna-2 became the first object to impact the Moon. Crunch.

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