Venera 1

Last updated
Venera 1
Venera 1 (a) (Memorial Museum of Astronautics).JPG
Mockup of the Venera 1 spacecraft
Mission type Venus impactor
Operator OKB-1
Harvard designation1961 Gamma 1
COSPAR ID 1961-003A
SATCAT no. 80
Mission duration7 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft 1VA No.2
Manufacturer OKB-1
Launch mass6,424.0 kilograms (14,162.5 lb)
Dry mass643.5 kilograms (1,419 lb)
Start of mission
Launch dateFebruary 12, 1961, 00:34:36 (1961-02-12UTC00:34:36Z) UTC
Rocket Molniya 8K78
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Last contact19 February 1961 (1961-02-20)
Orbital parameters
Reference system Heliocentric
Eccentricity 0.173
Perihelion altitude 1.019 AU
Aphelion altitude 0.718 AU
Inclination 0.58°
Period 311 days
Flyby of Venus
Closest approach19 May 1961
Distance100,000 km (62,000 mi)
1961 CPA 2556.jpg  

Venera 1 (Russian : Венера-1 meaning Venus 1), also known as Venera-1VA No.2 and occasionally in the West as Sputnik 8 was the first spacecraft to fly past Venus, as part of the Soviet Union's Venera programme. [1] Launched in February 1961, it flew past Venus on 19 May of the same year; however, radio contact with the probe was lost before the flyby, resulting in it returning no data.



Venera 1 was a 643.5-kilogram (1,419 lb) probe consisting of a cylindrical body 1.05 metres (3 ft 5 in) in diameter topped by a dome, totalling 2.035 metres (6 ft 8.1 in) in height. This was pressurized to 1.2 standard atmospheres (120 kPa) with dry nitrogen, with internal fans to maintain even distribution of heat.[ citation needed ] Two solar panels extended from the cylinder, charging a bank of silver-zinc batteries. A 2-metre parabolic wire-mesh antenna was designed to send data from Venus to Earth on a frequency of 922.8 MHz. A 2.4-metre antenna boom was used to transmit short-wave signals during the near-Earth phase of the mission. Semidirectional quadrupole antennas mounted on the solar panels provided routine telemetry and telecommand contact with Earth during the mission, on a circularly-polarized decimetre radio band.

The probe was equipped with scientific instruments including a flux-gate magnetometer attached to the antenna boom, two ion traps to measure solar wind, micrometeorite detectors, and Geiger counter tubes and a sodium iodide scintillator for measurement of cosmic radiation. An experiment attached to one solar panel measured temperatures of experimental coatings. Infrared and/or ultraviolet radiometers may have been included. The dome contained a KDU-414 engine used for mid-course corrections. Temperature control was achieved by motorized thermal shutters.

During most of its flight, Venera 1 was spin stabilized. It was the first spacecraft designed to perform mid-course corrections, by entering a mode of 3-axis stabilization, fixing on the Sun and the star Canopus. Had it reached Venus, it would have entered another mode of 3-axis stabilization, fixing on the Sun and Earth, and using for the first time a parabolic antenna to relay data.


Venera 1 was the second of two attempts to launch a probe to Venus in February 1961, immediately following the launch of its sister ship Venera-1VA No.1, [2] which failed to leave Earth orbit. [3] Soviet experts launched Venera-1 using a Molniya carrier rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. The launch took place at 00:34:36 GMT on 12 February 1961. [4]

The spacecraft, along with the rocket's Blok-L upper stage, was initially placed into a 229 × 282 km low Earth orbit, [1] before the upper stage fired to place "Venera 1" into a heliocentric orbit, directed towards Venus. The 11D33 engine was the world's first staged-combustion-cycle rocket engine, and also the first use of an ullage engine to allow a liquid-fuel rocket engine to start in space.


Three successful telemetry sessions were conducted, gathering solar-wind and cosmic-ray data near Earth, at the Earth's Magnetopause, and on February 19 at a distance of 1,900,000 km (1,200,000 mi). After discovering the solar wind with Luna 2, Venera 1 provided the first verification that this plasma was uniformly present in deep space. Seven days later, the next scheduled telemetry session failed to occur. On May 19, 1961, Venera 1 passed within 100,000 km (62,000 mi) of Venus. With the help of the British radio telescope at Jodrell Bank, some weak signals from Venera 1 may have been detected in June. Soviet engineers believed that Venera 1 failed due to the overheating of a solar-direction sensor. [5]

See also

Related Research Articles

Mariner 5

Mariner 5 was a spacecraft of the Mariner program that carried a complement of experiments to probe Venus' atmosphere by radio occultation, measure the hydrogen Lyman-alpha spectrum, and sample the solar particles and magnetic field fluctuations above the planet. Its goals were to measure interplanetary and Venusian magnetic fields, charged particles, plasma, radio refractivity and UV emissions of the Venusian atmosphere.

Venera A Soviet program that explored Venus with multiple probes

The Venera program was the name given to a series of space probes developed by the Soviet Union between 1961 and 1984 to gather information about the planet Venus. Ten probes successfully landed on the surface of the planet, including the two Vega program and Venera-Halley probes, while thirteen probes successfully entered the Venusian atmosphere. Due to the extreme surface conditions on Venus, the probes could only survive for a short period on the surface, with times ranging from 23 minutes to two hours.

Tyazhely Sputnik,, also known by its development name as Venera 1VA No.1, and in the West as Sputnik 7, was a Soviet spacecraft, which was intended to be the first spacecraft to explore Venus. Due to a problem with its upper stage it failed to leave low Earth orbit. In order to avoid acknowledging the failure, the Soviet government instead announced that the entire spacecraft, including the upper stage, was a test of a "Heavy Satellite" which would serve as a launch platform for future missions. This resulted in the upper stage being considered a separate spacecraft, from which the probe was "launched", on several subsequent missions.

Ranger 5

Ranger 5 was a spacecraft of the Ranger program designed to transmit pictures of the lunar surface to Earth stations during a period of 10 minutes of flight prior to impacting on the Moon, to rough-land a seismometer capsule on the Moon, to collect gamma-ray data in flight, to study radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, and to continue testing of the Ranger program for development of lunar and interplanetary spacecraft. Due to an unknown malfunction, the spacecraft ran out of power and ceased operation. It passed within 725 km of the Moon.

Mars 1

Mars 1, also known as 1962 Beta Nu 1, Mars 2MV-4 and Sputnik 23, was an automatic interplanetary station launched in the direction of Mars on November 1, 1962, the first of the Soviet Mars probe program, with the intent of flying by the planet at a distance of about 11,000 km (6,800 mi). It was designed to image the surface and send back data on cosmic radiation, micrometeoroid impacts and Mars' magnetic field, radiation environment, atmospheric structure, and possible organic compounds.

Kosmos 21 was a Soviet spacecraft. This mission has been tentatively identified by NASA as a technology test of the Venera series space probes. It may have been an attempted Venus impact, presumably similar to the later Kosmos 27 mission, or it may have been intended from the beginning to remain in geocentric orbit. In any case, the spacecraft never left Earth orbit after insertion by the Molniya launcher. The orbit decayed on 14 November 1963, three days after launch.

Kosmos 27, also known as Zond 3MV-1 No.3 was a space mission intended as a Venus impact probe. The spacecraft was launched by a Molniya 8K78 carrier rocket from Baikonur. The Blok L stage and probe reached Earth orbit successfully, but the attitude control system failed to operate.

Vega 2

Vega 2 was a Soviet space probe part of the Vega program to explore Halley's comet and Venus. The spacecraft was a development of the earlier Venera craft. The name VeGa (ВеГа) combines the first two letters Russian words for Venus and Halley They were designed by Babakin Space Centre and constructed as 5VK by Lavochkin at Khimki. The craft was powered by large twin solar panels. Instruments included an antenna dish, cameras, spectrometer, infrared sounder, magnetometers (MISCHA) and plasma probes. The 10,850 pounds (4,920 kg) craft was launched on top of a Proton 8K82K rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Tyuratam, Kazakh SSR. Both Vega 1 and 2 were three-axis stabilized spacecraft. The spacecraft were equipped with a dual bumper shield for dust protection from Halley's Comet.

Venera 4V-2 was a series of two identical spacecraft sent to Venus by the Soviet Union, consisting of Venera 15 and Venera 16. Both unmanned orbiters were to map the surface of Venus using high resolution imaging systems. The spacecraft were identical and based on modifications to the earlier Venera space probes.

<i>Pioneer 5</i> Space probe

Pioneer 5 was a spin-stabilized space probe in the NASA Pioneer program used to investigate interplanetary space between the orbits of Earth and Venus. It was launched on 11 March 1960 from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Launch Complex 17A at 13:00:00 UTC with an on-orbit dry mass of 43 kg. It was a 0.66 m diameter sphere with 1.4 m span across its four solar panels and achieved a solar orbit of 0.806 × 0.995 AU.

Venera 16

Venera 16 was a spacecraft sent to Venus by the Soviet Union. This unmanned orbiter was to map the surface of Venus using high resolution imaging systems. The spacecraft was identical to Venera 15 and based on modifications to the earlier Venera space probes.The latest data from the spacecraft were received on June 13, 1985, when it responded to the signal sent from Earth for Vega 1.

Venera 15 was a spacecraft sent to Venus by the Soviet Union. This uncrewed orbiter was to map the surface of Venus using high resolution imaging systems. The spacecraft was identical to Venera 16 and based on modifications to the earlier Venera space probes.

Mars 1M

Mars 1M was a series of two uncrewed spacecraft which were used in the first Soviet missions to explore Mars. They were the earliest missions of the Mars program. The Western media dubbed the spacecraft "Marsnik", a portmanteau of Mars and Sputnik.

Venera 10 Space probe

Venera 10, or 4V-1 No. 661, was a Soviet uncrewed space mission to Venus. It consisted of an orbiter and a lander. It was launched on June 14, 1975 03:00:31 UTC and had a mass of 5033 kg (11096 lb).

Venera 7 A Soviet spacecraft, part of the Venera series of probes to Venus

Venera 7 was a Soviet spacecraft, part of the Venera series of probes to Venus. When it landed on the Venusian surface on 15 December 1970, it became the first spacecraft to soft land on another planet and the first to transmit data from there back to Earth.

Venera 2

Venera 2, also known as 3MV-4 No.4 was a Soviet spacecraft intended to explore Venus. A 3MV-4 spacecraft launched as part of the Venera programme, it failed to return data after flying past Venus.

Venera 13

Venera 13 was a probe in the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus.

Venera 14 1982 Soviet space probe which successfully landed on Venus

Venera 14 was a probe in the Soviet Venera program for the exploration of Venus.

Kosmos 96, or 3MV-4 No.6, was a Soviet spacecraft intended to explore Venus. A 3MV-4 spacecraft launched as part of the Venera programme, Kosmos 96 was to have made a flyby of Venus, however, due to a launch failure, it did not depart low Earth orbit. Its re-entry into Earth's atmosphere is often speculated as the cause of the Kecksburg UFO incident.

Kosmos 167, or 4V-1 No.311, was a 1967 Soviet spacecraft intended to explore Venus. A spacecraft launched as part of the Venera programme, Kosmos 167 was intended to land on Venus but never departed low Earth orbit due to a launch failure.


  1. 1 2 "Venera 1". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. Retrieved 2019-08-15.
  2. NSSDC Chronology of Venus Exploration (NASA Goddard Space Center), accessed August 9, 2010
  3. NSSDC Tentatively Identified (Soviet) Missions and Launch Failures (NASA Goddard Space Center), accessed August 9, 2010
  4. McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  5. "Venera 1 launches toward Venus, February 12, 1961". AspenCore, Inc. Retrieved 2020-06-06.