Little Bits of History

Luna 2

Posted in History by patriciahysell on September 14, 2011

Luna 2

September 14, 1959: Luna 2 becomes the first manmade object to make the journey from Earth to Moon. It was an E-1A series craft and was the second attempt by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics to land a probe on the moon. It was spherical in shape with many antennae and instruments attached. Luna 2 weighed 860.2 pounds and launched at 6:39 AM on September 12. The craft crashed into the surface of the moon at 3:02 AM EST.

The Space Race was initially won by the Soviets who launched the first successful orbital flight, Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957. The United States responded with an attempted launch on December 6 which failed. The next year saw two successful launches by the US and then seven failures – 4 by the US and 3 by the USSR. Finally, on January 2, 1959, the USSR was able to put Luna 1 up with the supposed hope of landing on the moon. However, that portion of the mission failed and the satellite continued past the moon two days later, missing contact by 3,725 miles.

Luna 2 impacted at Mare Serenitatis. Instrumentation aboard the craft included scintillation and Geiger counters, a magnetometer, and a micrometeorite detector. The ship studied the Van Allen Radiation Belts on the way out and learned before impact that the moon had no such belts and lacked a strong magnetic field that would be necessary to hold them in place.

Today there are tons of manmade objects on the moon – almost 85 tons. There are more than 70 artifacts left by the USSR, the US, Japan, and the European Space Agency. The last entity to aim for the moon has been the US with LCROSS Centaur in October 2009. They hoped to find evidence of water on the moon, but were disappointed after the intended crash did not produce the expected results. Of course, not everything has stayed up there on the moon. Six Apollo missions landed modules on the moon with 12 American astronauts who walked the alien surface and then managed to get back home to Mother Earth.

“This is the first convention of the space age – where a candidate can promise the moon and mean it.” – unknown

“Aiming for the moon and missing it is better than aiming for the ditch and hitting it.” – unknown

“Is there ever any danger of a space- walking astronaut being hit by super fast-moving space junk?” – Miles O’Brien

“We went back to Apollo (moon walks), where (ground control) was providing blow-by-blow advice to astronauts who would narrate all of their activities. The point is, when you’re on Mars you can’t be having this conversation with folks back in Houston because of the time delay.” – Bill Clancey

Also on this day:
Fort McHenry – In 1814, a poem written by a young lawyer is published.
The Earls Leave – In 1607, the Irish aristocracy is forced to flee.

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