Mars series – part two: Mars as an early space program target?

Part Two in the Mars series
Mars as an early space program target?

    Two unsuccessful attempts in 1960 by the USSR

    The Russians experienced two unsuccessful unmanned launch attempts of probes in October 1960 under the Marsnik program, the first Soviet unmanned spacecraft interplanetary exploration program.

    Mars 1960A (Marsnik 1) was destroyed at launch on October 10, 1960.

    Four days later – October 14 – the Russians launched Marsnik 2 or Mars 1960B. The third stage pumps failed to create enough thrust to generate ignition so the spacecraft reached an altitude of 120km before reentry, failing to achieve an Earth parking orbit.

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    Marsnik 1
    Image credit: Wikipedia

    Additional Russian failures in 1962 and 1964

    Mars 1 was launched to Mars on November 1, 1962 as part of the Soviet Mars exploration program. It did manage to reach a distance of 106,760,000 km from Earth before experiencing a complete communications failure on its way to Mars

    The Soviets again tried to launch a Mars probe in 1964 on two different occasions. Zond 1964A failed at launch on June 4, and Zond 2 also suffered the fate of lost communication in May 1965, having been launched on November 30, 1964.

    First successful attempt?

    The first successful unmanned space probe Mars mission was achieved by the United States when Mariner 4 passed within 6,228 miles of the surface of Mars on July 14, 1965, providing 22 close-up images. Mariner 3 was launched on November 5th, 1964 but failed to reach Mars. Mariner 4 was launched a few weeks later on November 28, 1964.

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    Image credit: Wikipedia
    Taken from Mariner 4, the first close-up image ever taken of Mars shows an area about 330 km across by 1200 km from limb to bottom of frame.


    ~ by tellinghistory on December 21, 2007.

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