Luna E-6 No.2

E-6 No.2
Mission type Lunar lander
COSPAR ID 1963-001B[1]
SATCAT no. 522
Mission duration Launch failure
Spacecraft properties
Manufacturer OKB-1
Launch mass 1,500 kilograms (3,300 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 4 January 1963, 08:49 (1963-01-04UTC08:49Z) UTC
Rocket Molniya-L 8K78L s/n T103-09
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Decay date 11 January 1963 (1963-01-12)
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth (achieved)
Heliocentric (intended)
Perigee altitude 178 kilometres (111 mi)
Apogee altitude 194 kilometres (121 mi)
Inclination 64.7 degrees
Period 88.21 minutes
Epoch 11 January 1963[1]
Luna 4 →

Luna E-6 No.2, also identified as No.1, and sometimes known in the West as Sputnik 25, was a Soviet spacecraft which launched in 1963, but was placed into a useless orbit due to a problem with the upper stage of the rocket that launched it. It was a 1,500-kilogram (3,300 lb) Luna E-6 spacecraft,[2] the first of twelve to be launched.[3] It was intended to be the first spacecraft to perform a soft landing on the Moon, a goal which would eventually be accomplished by the final E-6 spacecraft, Luna 9.

Luna E-6 No.2 was launched at 08:49 UTC on 4 January 1963, atop a Molniya-L 8K78L carrier rocket,[3] flying from Site 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.[4] The lower stages of the rocket performed nominally, delivering the upper stage and payload into low Earth orbit, but a transformer in the upper stage malfunctioned, which resulted in its ullage motors failing to ignite when the stage began its start-up sequence, sixty-six minutes after launch.[5][6] It remained in low Earth orbit until it decayed on 11 January 1963.[1] It was the first spacecraft to be launched in 1963, and consequently the first to be assigned an International Designator, under the new system which had been introduced at the start of the year.[4]

The spacecraft consisted of a cylindrical section containing rockets and fuel for maneuvering, attitude control and landing, as well as radio transmitters, and a 100-kilogram (220 lb) instrumented probe, which would have been ejected onto the surface after the spacecraft landed, carrying a camera and devices to measure radiation. It was intended to return data on the mechanical characteristics of the lunar surface, the hazards presented by the topology--such as craters, rocks, and other obstructions--and radiation, in preparation for future manned landings.

The designations Sputnik 33, and later Sputnik 25 were used by the United States Naval Space Command to identify the spacecraft in its Satellite Situation Summary documents, since the Soviet Union did not release the internal designations of its spacecraft at that time, and had not assigned it an official name due to its failure to depart geocentric orbit.[7]


  1. ^ a b c McDowell, Jonathan. "Satellite Catalog". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 28 July 2010.
  2. ^ Wade, Mark. "Luna E-6". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  3. ^ a b Krebs, Gunter. "Luna E-6". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  4. ^ a b McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  5. ^ Wade, Mark. "Soyuz". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 7 January 2010. Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  6. ^ Christy, Robert. "USSR - Luna". Retrieved 29 July 2010.
  7. ^ Robbins, Stuart J. (11 January 2006). "Soviet Craft – Sputnik". Journey Through The Galaxy. Archived from the original on 4 February 2009. Retrieved 29 July 2010.