1970 in spaceflight

Japan and China each launched their first satellites in 1970, bringing the total number of nations with independent launch capability to five. Apollo 13 was launched; after suffering an explosion in deep space it had to circumnavigate the moon and use the LM as a life boat. Apollo 13 was a successful disaster in which the crew survived. The Soviet space program continued its Luna program with Luna 17, which delivered the robotic Lunokhod 1 rover to the lunar surface, and Luna 16, which achieved the first unmanned lunar sample return. The Soviets also continued the success of the Venera Venus probes with Venera 7, the first man-made spacecraft to successfully land on another planet and to transmit data back to Earth, though it only survived 23 minutes on the surface.

1970 in spaceflight
Orbital launches
First11 February
Last12 December
National firsts
Satellite Japan
Orbital launch Japan


This is a list of spaceflights launched in 1970.

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome


11 February Lambda-4S Kagoshima Japan
Ohsumi Tokyo University Low Earth Technology2 August 2003Successful
First satellite launched by Japan


3 March
Black Arrow Woomera RAE
RAE Low Earth Test LVIn orbitSuccessful


11 April
Saturn V (C-5) Kennedy LC-39A NASA
Apollo 13 CSM Odyssey NASA Intended: Lunar orbit
Actual: Lunar free return
Manned Lunar orbit.15 April 1970Failure
Apollo 13 LM Aquarius NASA Intended: Lunar landing
Actual: Lunar free return
Manned lunar landing15 April 1970Failure
Explosion in Service Module crippled spacecraft, resulting in mission abort. Mission aborted due to CSM malfunction. LM used to help bring crew back to Earth.
24 April Long March 1 Rocket Jiuquan PRC
Dong Fang Hong I PRC Low Earth Test satelliteIn orbitSuccessful
First satellite launched by China


1 June
Soyuz (R-7/A-2) Baikonur Site 1 RVSN
Soyuz 9 RVSN Low Earth Manned Orbital Spaceflight19 June 1970
Longest Manned flight involving only one spacecraft. (As of 09/06/06)
1 June
Black Arrow Woomera RAE
Orba RAE Low Earth Micrometeoroid detection satelliteIn orbitFailure
First British attempt to launch a satellite. Failed to reach orbit after premature 2nd stage cutout.


12 September
Proton-K/D Baikonur 81/23
Luna 16 Selenocentric Lunar landerIn orbitSuccessful
First unmanned lunar sample return, first Soviet lunar sample return


20 October
Proton-K/D Baikonur 81/23
Zond 8 Highly elliptical Spacecraft testIn orbitSuccessful
Final circumlunar flight of the Zond program.


12 December
Scout B San Marco mobile range, Kenya CRA
Uhuru NASA Low Earth X-ray astronomyIn orbitSuccessful
First satellite dedicated to X-ray astronomy.

Off-world launches

Date and time (UTC) Rocket Flight number Launch site LSP
(⚀ = CubeSat)
Operator Orbit Function Decay (UTC) Outcome
21 September
Luna 16 Ascent stage Mare Fecunditatis (Moon)
Luna 16 Return capsule Highly elliptical Sample return17 September 1970Successful
First unmanned lunar sample return mission

Deep Space Rendezvous

Date (GMT) Spacecraft Event Remarks
11 April 1970Apollo 13 S-IVB stageImpacted the Moon
15 AprilApollo 13Lunar flyby at 254 kilometres (158 mi)Intended lunar landing, forced to abort and return to Earth using lunar free return trajectory
20 SeptemberLuna 16100gm from Mare FecunditatisFirst sample return mission
24 OctoberZond 8Circumlunar flight of the Moon 1,110 kilometres (690 mi)
17 NovemberLuna 17Delivered Lunokhod 1 at Mare ImbriumFirst robotic Lunar rover
15 DecemberVenera 7Atmospheric probe worked for 23 min on the Venerian surfaceFirst soft landing on another planet


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