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The Soviet Zond Missions of 1963-65: Planetary Probe Test Flights

18 Apr 2019, 13:21 UTC
The Soviet Zond Missions of 1963-65: Planetary Probe Test Flights
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By the beginning of 1963 as the crippled Mars 1 was making its way towards the Red Planet, Chief Designer Sergei Korolev and his team at the OKB-1 design bureau were already making plans for an improved family of interplanetary spacecraft designated Object 3MV that would be sent to Venus and Mars during the next launch opportunities in 1964. These new spacecraft would incorporate a laundry list of incremental improvements and design changes based on the experience with the earlier 2MV series of spacecraft (see “You Can’t Fail Unless You Try: The Soviet Venus & Mars Missions of 1962”). Among these was a set of experimental ion thrusters that could serve as a backup to the primary compressed nitrogen attitude control system that had failed on Mars 1.
A view of the 2MV-4 No. 4 Mars 1 spacecraft.
Problems with the 8K78 launch vehicle (later to be known as “Molniya” after the series of Soviet communications satellite which would use this rocket), which had doomed eight out of ten planetary probes launched between 1960 and 1962, not to mention the first two out of three E-6 unmanned lunar landers launched during the first quarter of 1963, were also to be ...

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