The first image from the Moon’s surface taken by the Soviet Luna 9 lander on Feb. 3, 1966 (EST)
On Feb. 3, 1966 the Soviet Luna 9 spacecraft made the first successful robotic soft landing on the Moon. Seven hours later it transmitted its first images of the lunar surface back to Earth. The image above is Luna 9 lander’s first view—the first time humans had ever seen a picture from the surface of another world.
The 99-kg (218-lb) Luna 9 lander
Launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on Jan. 31, 1966, the 22-inch-wide (58cm) spherical ALS capsule landed on the Moon at 18:45:30 UTC on February 3, 1966, west of the Reiner and Marius craters in the Ocean of Storms (see the map below of lunar landing sites.) Luna 9 beat America’s Surveyor to the Moon by about four months. Its landing was harder than that of Surveyor, but still soft enough for its camera and radiation detector to survive and do their jobs.
Images were transmitted when solar illumination allowed, seven hours later (technically Feb. 4 UTC). The Soviet Union did not initially share their images with the rest of the world, but England scooped the Soviets by intercepting the ...