During Apollo 11, the Soviet Union sent a covert spacecraft to the far side of the Moon.
SOVIET RUSSIA launched its own spacecraft to the opposite side of the Moon, where Neil Armstrong and his Apollo 11 crew had landed in a failed top-secret mission.
The Luna 2 spacecraft was launched 62 years ago today. In terms of space exploration, Soviet Russia was ahead of the US at the time. Luna 1 — the first spacecraft to reach the Moon’s vicinity — had already been launched.
However, Luna 2 went one step farther, becoming the first craft to land on the Moon’s surface.
The first manned trip, Apollo 11, was completed a decade later, with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin becoming the first humans to walk and jump across the Earth’s satellite.
The Soviets had made the same expedition on the other side of the moon, which was unknown at the time.
They had secretly launched Luna 15 while NASA was preparing Apollo 11.
Soviet Russia attempted a sample return mission in the hopes of analyzing and learning more about the Moon.
Throughout practically every stage of the Cold War Space Race, the power held the upper hand.
The first man in space was cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first extravehicular activity (EVA) was performed by cosmonaut Alexei Leonov, and Luna 3 was the first spacecraft to fly beyond the far side of the Moon.
When President John F. Kennedy declared his desire to place a man on the Moon in 1961, the Soviet Union was compelled to act.
“Luna 15, launched only three days before the famous Apollo 11 lunar mission, was the second Soviet attempt to retrieve and return lunar dirt to Earth,” NASA explained.
“In a race to reach the Moon and return to Earth, the Luna 15 and Apollo 11 missions were, in some respects, the culmination of the Moon race that defined both the United States and the Soviet Union’s space programs in the 1960s.”
Luna 15 was launched into lunar orbit on July 17, 1969, two days before Apollo 11 arrived.
However, the Soviet investigation ran into significant roadblocks.
It came dangerously close to exploding en route as one of its propellant tanks began to boil in the Sun’s heat, but a mid-flight flight correction ensured the probe arrived safely.
The Moon’s pockmarked surface, on the other hand, proved to be a problem on descent. “Brinkwire News in Condensed Form.”