Soviet Union — Roscosmos
Luna 16: Lunar Landing

Mission Details

Mission Name: Luna 16
Mission Type: Lunar Lander
Operator: Soviet Union (Roscosmos)
Launching State: Soviet Union/Russia
Location: Mare Fecunditatis
Latitude: -0.513
Longitude: 56.364
Launch Date: 12 September 1970, 13:25:53 UT
Landing Date: 20 September 1970, 05:18 UT
Objects on or Related to Site:
Luna 16
Image Source: NASA


The mission of Luna 16 was to drill out a sample core from the Moon’s surface and return it to Earth.

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Heritage Consideration

Luna 16 was the first robotic probe to land on the Moon and return a sample to Earth. It returned 101 grams.

Object on or Related to Site

Object Name: Luna 16
Cospar: 1969-058A
Norad: N/A
Location: Precise location unknown or undisclosed.
Launch Date: 12 September 1970, 13:25:53 UT
Landing Date: 20 September 1970, 05:18 UT
Deployment: N/A
End Date: N/A
Function: Lunar sample return.
Image Source: NASA


The spacecraft consisted of two attached stages, an ascent stage mounted on top of a descent stage.

The descent stage was a cylindrical body with four protruding landing legs, fuel tanks, a landing radar, and a dual descent engine complex. A main descent engine was used to slow the craft until it reached a cutoff point which was determined by the onboard computer based on altitude and velocity. After cutoff a bank of lower thrust jets was used for the final landing. The descent stage also acted as a launch pad for the ascent stage.

The ascent stage was a smaller cylinder with a rounded top. It carried a cylindrical hermetically sealed soil sample container inside a re-entry capsule. The spacecraft descent stage was equipped with a television camera, radiation and temperature monitors, telecommunications equipment, and an extendable arm with a drilling rig for the collection of a lunar soil sample.

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Suggested contents and articles.
Suggested Contents
Luna 20: Lunar Landing
Luna 20 was to conduct the mission that Luna 18 was unable to complete: obtain a soil sample from the lunar highlands and bring it to Earth for comparison with Luna 16's sample from a site that was thought to be geologically different.
Luna 18: Lunar Landing
The goals of Luna 18 was to collect lunar samples and bring them back to Earth.
Luna 17: Lunar Landing
Luna 17 was designed to deliver a robotic rover called "Lunokhod 1" to the lunar surface. The rover was to travel to various locations under the real-time control of operators on Earth and conduct tests on the lunar soil for 3 lunar days (about 3 Earth months).
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