Soviet Union — Roscosmos
Luna 18: Lunar Landing

Mission Details

Mission Name: Luna 18
Mission Type: Lunar Lander
Operator: Soviet Union (Roscosmos)
Launching State: Soviet Union/Russia
Location: Mare Fecunditatis
Latitude: 3.76
Longitude: 56.655
Launch Date: 2 September 1971, 13:40:40 UT
Landing Date: 11 September 1971, 07:48 UT
Objects on or Related to Site:
Luna 18
Image Source: NASA


The goals of Luna 18 was to collect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth.

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Heritage Consideration

Luna 18 crashed while attempting to land. Before its destruction, however, it transmitted data regarding the mean density of the lunar topsoil.

Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: Luna 18
Cospar: 1971-073A
Norad: N/A
Location: Precise location unknown or undisclosed.
Launch Date: 2 September 1971, 13:40:40 UT
Landing Date: 11 September 1971, 07:48 UT
Deployment: N/A
End Date: N/A
Function: Lunar sample return.
Image Source: NASA


After two midcourse corrections on 4 and 6 September 1971, Luna 18 entered a circular orbit around the Moon on 7 September at 100 kilometers altitude with an inclination of 35°. After several more orbital corrections, on 11 September, the vehicle began its descent to the lunar surface. Unfortunately, contact with the spacecraft was abruptly lost at 07:48 UT at the previously determined point of lunar landing. Impact coordinates were 3°34′ north latitude and 56°30′ east longitude, near the edge of the Sea of Fertility.

Officially, the Soviets announced that “the lunar landing in the complex mountainous conditions proved to be unfavorable.” Later, in 1975, the Soviets published data from Luna 18’s continuous-wave radio altimeter that determined the mean density of the lunar topsoil.

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