Luna E-1 No.3

Luna E-1 No.3,[1] sometimes identified by NASA as Luna 1958C,[2] was a Soviet spacecraft which was lost in a launch failure in 1958. It was a 361-kilogram (796 lb) Luna E-1 spacecraft, the third of four to be launched,[3] all of which were involved in launch failures.[4] It was intended to impact the surface of the Moon, and in doing so become the first man-made object to reach its surface.

E-1 No.3
Mission typeLunar impactor
Mission durationFailed to orbit
Spacecraft properties
Launch mass361 kilograms (796 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date4 December 1958, (1958-12-04)
RocketLuna 8K72 s/n B1-5
Launch siteBaikonur 1/5

The spacecraft was intended to release 1 kilogram (2.2 lb) of sodium, in order to create a cloud of the metal which could be observed from Earth, allowing the spacecraft to be tracked.[5] Prior to the release of information about its mission, NASA correctly identified that it had been an attempted Lunar impact mission.[2]

Luna E-1 No.3 was launched on 4 December 1958 atop a Luna 8K72 carrier rocket,[4] flying from Site 1/5 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome.[1] Two hundred and forty five seconds into the flight, a hydrogen peroxide pump seized up due to loss of lubrication, which caused the rocket's core stage engines to fail.[4]


  1. McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  2. Williams, David R. (6 January 2005). "Tentatively Identified Missions and Launch Failures". NASA NSSDC. Retrieved 30 July 2010.
  3. Krebs, Gunter. "Luna E-1". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  4. Wade, Mark. "Soyuz". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 17 January 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
  5. Wade, Mark. "Luna E-1". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Archived from the original on 22 December 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010.
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