Luna 18
A Ye-8-5 model in the Museum of Cosmonautics, Moscow.
Mission typeLunar sample return
OperatorSoviet space program
COSPAR ID1971-073A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.5448
Mission duration9 days (launch day to day of last contact)
Spacecraft properties
ManufacturerGSMZ Lavochkin
Launch mass5,725 kilograms (12,621 lb)[1]
Dry mass5,600 kilograms (12,300 lb)[citation needed]
Start of mission
Launch date2 September 1971, 13:40:40 (1971-09-02UTC13:40:40Z) UTC[1]
Launch siteBaikonur 81/24
End of mission
Last contact11 September 1971, 07:48 (1971-09-11UTC07:49Z) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Periselene altitude1,824.9 kilometres (1,133.9 mi)
Aposelene altitude1,842.3 kilometres (1,144.8 mi)
Inclination35 degrees
Period119 minutes
Epoch6 September 1971, 20:00:00 UTC[2]
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertion7 September 1971
Lunar impact (failed landing)
Impact date11 September 1971 07:48 UTC
Impact site3°34′N 56°30′E / 3.567°N 56.500°E / 3.567; 56.500
Stereo photographic imaging system
Remote arm for sample collection
Radiation detector
Radio altimeter
← Luna 17
Luna 19 →

Luna 18, part of the Ye-8-5 series, was an uncrewed space mission of the Luna program.


Luna 18 was placed in an Earth parking orbit after it was launched and was then sent towards the Moon. On 7 September 1971, it entered lunar orbit. The spacecraft completed 85 communications sessions and 54 lunar orbits before it was sent towards the lunar surface by use of braking rockets. It impacted the Moon on 11 September 1971, at 3 degrees 34 minutes N, 56 degrees 30 minutes E (selenographic coordinates) in rugged mountainous terrain. Signals ceased at the moment of impact.

This mission was the seventh Soviet attempt to recover soil samples from the surface of the Moon and the first after the success of Luna 16. After two mid-course corrections on 4 September 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. Contact with the spacecraft was 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 Mare Fecunditatis ("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.

See also


  1. ^ a b Siddiqi, Asif (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF) (second ed.). NASA History Program Office. ISBN 9781626830431.
  2. ^ "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Trajectory Details". Retrieved 2018-05-02.