On This Day In Space: Sept. 20, 1970: Luna 16 lands on the moon


On Sept. 20, 1970, the Soviet Union’s Luna 16 moon probe landed on the moon to retrieve a soil sample. Four days later, it became the first robotic spacecraft to return a sample of lunar soil to Earth.

Luna 16 was the first robotic spacecraft to succeed in landing on the moon, scooping up a soil sample and returning it to Earth.

Luna 16 was launched toward the Moon from a preliminary earth orbit and entered a lunar orbit on September 17, 1970. On September 20, the spacecraft soft landed on the lunar surface in Mare Foecunditatis (the Sea of Fertility) as planned.

Luna 16 was launched toward the Moon from a preliminary earth orbit and entered a lunar orbit on September 17, 1970. On September 20, the spacecraft soft landed on the lunar surface in Mare Foecunditatis (the Sea of Fertility) as planned. (Image credit: NASA’s National Space Science Data Center)



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