The First Explorers: Learning from History
It was to be the first vehicle of its kind: a robot lander crafted to settle on the surface of Earth’s Moon. Luna 8, pride of the Soviet Union, would be a window into another world, an illuminator of mysteries. For three days in 1965, the Moon swelled from a gibbous orb to a vast gray wall as the craft sailed toward Earth’s sibling. Crater rims stood out against the dark sands, capped by rugged boulders. The beachball-sized craft raced through the translunar emptiness, ready. Folded around the lander, airbags were poised to fill with gas to cushion Luna’s initial contact with the surface. Its petals pulled against springs, waiting to open like a flower on the lunar surface, with cameras ready to unveil the unknown world to waiting scientists back in Moscow.
KeywordsLunar Surface Service Module Lunar Orbit Main Engine Mars Exploration Rover
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