Venera 1

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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.

Russian language East Slavic language

Russian is an East Slavic language, which is official in the Russian Federation, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, as well as being widely used throughout Eastern Europe, the Baltic states, the Caucasus and Central Asia. It was the de facto language of the Soviet Union until its dissolution on 25 December 1991. Although nearly three decades have passed since the breakup of the Soviet Union, Russian is used in official capacity or in public life in all the post-Soviet nation-states, as well as in Israel and Mongolia.

Venus Second planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Venus is the second planet from the Sun, orbiting it every 224.7 Earth days. It has the longest rotation period of any planet in the Solar System and rotates in the opposite direction to most other planets. It does not have any natural satellites. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. It is the second-brightest natural object in the night sky after the Moon, and is bright enough to cast shadows at night and, rarely, visible to the naked eye in broad daylight. Orbiting within Earth's orbit, Venus is an inferior planet and never appears to venture far from the Sun; its maximum angular distance from the Sun (elongation) is 47.8°.

Soviet Union 1922–1991 country in Europe and Asia

The Soviet Union, officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), was a Marxist-Leninist sovereign state in Eurasia that existed from 1922 to 1991. Nominally a union of multiple national Soviet republics, its government and economy were highly centralized. The country was a one-party state, governed by the Communist Party with Moscow as its capital in its largest republic, the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic. Other major urban centres were Leningrad, Kiev, Minsk, Tashkent, Alma-Ata, and Novosibirsk. It spanned over 10,000 kilometres (6,200 mi) east to west across 11 time zones, and over 7,200 kilometres (4,500 mi) north to south. It had five climate zones: tundra, taiga, steppes, desert and mountains.



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.

A quadrupole or quadrapole is one of a sequence of configurations of things like electric charge or current, or gravitational mass that can exist in ideal form, but it is usually just part of a multipole expansion of a more complex structure reflecting various orders of complexity.

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.

Magnetometer measuring instrument for magnetism

A magnetometer is a device that measures magnetism—the direction, strength, or relative change of a magnetic field at a particular location. The measurement of the magnetization of a magnetic material is an example. A compass is one such device, one that measures the direction of an ambient magnetic field, in this case, the Earth's magnetic field.

Ion trap combination of electric or magnetic fields used to capture charged particles

An ion trap is a combination of electric or magnetic fields used to capture charged particles, often in a system isolated from an external environment. Ion traps have a number of scientific uses such as mass spectrometry, basic physics research, and controlling quantum states. The two most common types of ion trap are the Penning trap, which forms a potential via a combination of electric and magnetic fields, and the Paul trap which forms a potential via a combination of static and oscillating electric fields.

Micrometeorite smallest extraterrestrial materials that make it to the surface of the Earth

A micrometeorite is essentially a micrometeoroid that has survived entry through Earth's atmosphere. The size of such a particle ranges from 50 µm to 2 mm. Usually found on Earth's surface, micrometeorites differ from meteorites in that they are smaller in size, more abundant, and different in composition. They are a subset of cosmic dust, which also includes the smaller interplanetary dust particles (IDPs).

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.

Canopus Star in the constellation of Carina

Canopus is the brightest star in the southern constellation of Carina, and is located near the western edge of the constellation around 310 light-years from the Sun. Its proper name is generally considered to originate from the mythological Canopus, who was a navigator for Menelaus, king of Sparta. Canopus has the Bayer designation α Carinae, which is Latinised to Alpha Carinae and abbreviated Alpha Car or α Car. It is the second-brightest star in the night sky, after Sirius. Canopus' visual apparent magnitude is −0.74, and it has an absolute magnitude of −5.71.

Sun Star at the centre of the Solar System

The Sun is the star at the center of the Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, with internal convective motion that generates a magnetic field via a dynamo process. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 1.39 million kilometers, or 109 times that of Earth, and its mass is about 330,000 times that of Earth. It accounts for about 99.86% of the total mass of the Solar System. Roughly three quarters of the Sun's mass consists of hydrogen (~73%); the rest is mostly helium (~25%), with much smaller quantities of heavier elements, including oxygen, carbon, neon, and iron.

Earth Third planet from the Sun in the Solar System

Earth is the third planet from the Sun and the only astronomical object known to harbor life. According to radiometric dating and other sources of evidence, Earth formed over 4.5 billion years ago. Earth's gravity interacts with other objects in space, especially the Sun and the Moon, Earth's only natural satellite. Earth orbits around the Sun in 365.26 days, a period known as an Earth year. During this time, Earth rotates about its axis about 366.26 times.


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 UTC on 12 February 1961. [4]

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.

Molniya (rocket) Soviet rocket

The Molniya, GRAU Index 8K78, was a modification of the well-known R-7 Semyorka rocket and had four stages.

Baikonur Cosmodrome Rocket launch complex in Kazakhstan, used by Russia

The Baikonur Cosmodrome is a spaceport located in an area of southern Kazakhstan leased to Russia.

The spacecraft, along with the rocket's Blok-L upper stage, were 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.

Low Earth orbit Orbit around Earth with an altitude between 160 kilometers and 2,000 kilometers

A low Earth orbit (LEO) is an Earth-centered orbit with an altitude of 2,000 km (1,200 mi) or less, or with at least 11.25 periods per day and an eccentricity less than 0.25. Most of the manmade objects in outer space are in LEO.

Heliocentric orbit Solar orbit around the sun

A heliocentric orbit is an orbit around the barycenter of the Solar System, which is usually located within or very near the surface of the Sun. All planets, comets, and asteroids in the Solar System, and the Sun itself are in such orbits, as are many artificial probes and pieces of debris. The moons of planets in the Solar System, by contrast, are not in heliocentric orbits, as they orbit their respective planet.


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.

See also

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Mars 1

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Vega 1 Space probe

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Vega 2 space probe

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 twin large solar panels and instruments included an antenna dish, cameras, spectrometer, infrared sounder, magnetometers (MISCHA), and plasma probes. The 10,850 pounds (4,920 kg) craft was launched by 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.

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  1. 1 2 "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Details - Venera 1". 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.