Venera 3
1966 CPA 3379.jpg
Mission typeVenus atmospheric probe with flyby spacecraft
COSPAR ID1965-092A Edit this at Wikidata
SATCAT no.1733
Mission duration105 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft3MV-3 No.1
Launch mass960 kg (2,120 lb)
Landing mass377 kg (831 lb)
Dimensions4.2 m × 1.1 m (13.8 ft × 3.6 ft)
Start of mission
Launch date16 November 1965, 04:19 (1965-11-16UTC04:19Z) UTC
RocketMolniya M
Launch siteBaikonur 31/6
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric
Perihelion altitude0.68 AU
Aphelion altitude0.99 AU
Period277 days
Venus impact (failed landing)
Impact date1 March 1966
Impact site20°N 80°E / 20°N 80°E / 20; 80

Venera 3 (Russian: Венера-3 meaning Venus 3) was a Venera program space probe that was built and launched by the Soviet Union to explore the surface of Venus. It was launched on 16 November 1965 at 04:19 UTC from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, USSR. The probe comprised an entry probe, designed to enter the Venus atmosphere and parachute to the surface, and a carrier/flyby spacecraft,[1][2] which carried the entry probe to Venus and also served as a communications relay for the entry probe.


During 1965, the Central Committee, frustrated at the poor track record of Sergei Korolev's OKB-1 design bureau, reassigned the planetary probe program to the Lavochkin Bureau. In over two dozen attempts dating back to 1958, Luna 2 and Luna 3 were the only probes to complete all of their mission objectives. In the meantime, the United States had succeeded with the Mariner 2 Venus probe and Mariner 4 Mars probe, and after a long string of lunar probe failures, Ranger 6 successfully impacted on the Moon (with a failed TV system), and Ranger 7 successfully sent back a series of TV pictures.

The Lavochkin Bureau began a comprehensive testing program of the Venera and Luna probes, while Korolev had always opposed the idea of bench tests except on manned spacecraft. Among other design flaws they discovered was that the Venera landers, after being subjected to a centrifuge test, failed at half the G forces that they were supposed to handle.


The mission of this spacecraft was to land on the Venusian surface. The entry body contained a radio communication system, scientific instruments, electrical power sources, and medallions bearing the Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union. The probe was sterilised before launch.[3]

The probe's initial trajectory missed Venus by 60,550km and a course correction manoeuvre was carried out on 26 December 1965 which brought the probe onto a collision course with the planet.[4] Contact with the probe was lost on 15 February 1966 likely due to overheating.[4]

The entry probe crashed on Venus on 1 March 1966, making Venera 3 the first space probe to hit the surface of another planet.[5][6]


Power system

The power system for the carrier spacecraft was notable in that it was the first operational use of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar cells in space. GaAs solar cells, manufactured by Kvant [ru], were chosen because of their higher performance in high temperature environments.[7] Two two-square-meter solar panels charged the rechargeable batteries.

The entry probe was battery powered using non-rechargeable batteries

Interplanetary Bus

Non-scientific equipment

Scientific equipment

The probe differed from Venera 2 in not having a micrometeorite detector.[4]


See also


  1. ^ Wade, Mark. "Venera 3MV-3". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 28 December 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  2. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Venera 3 (3MV-3 #1)". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 3 April 2018.
  3. ^ Ulivi, Paolo; Harland, David M (2007). Robotic Exploration of the Solar System Part I: The Golden Age 1957-1982. Springer. p. 46. ISBN 9780387493268.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h Harvey, Brian (2007). Russian Planetary Exploration History, Development, Legacy and Prospects. Springer-Praxis. pp. 94–97. ISBN 9780387463438.
  5. ^ Siddiqi, Asif A. (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF). The NASA history series (second ed.). Washington, DC: NASA History Program Office. p. 1. ISBN 9781626830424. LCCN 2017059404. SP2018-4041.
  6. ^ "Venera 3". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive.
  7. ^ G.F.X. Strobl, G. LaRoche, K.-D. Rasch, and G. Hey, "2 From Extraterrestrial to Terrestrial Applications," in High-Efficient Low-Cost Photovoltaics: Recent Developments, Springer 2009.
  8. ^ The interplanetary space probes "Venera-2" and "Venera-3" (in Russian). Retrieved 17 February 2017.