Kosmos 359


Kosmos 359
Mission typeVenus lander[1]
COSPAR ID1970-065A
SATCAT no.04501
Mission durationLaunch failure
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type3MV
Launch mass1,180 kilograms (2,600 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date22 August 1970, 05:06:09 (1970-08-22UTC05:06:09Z) UTC
RocketMolniya-M 8K78M
Launch siteBaikonur 31/6
End of mission
Decay date6 November 1970 (1970-11-07Z)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemGeocentric
RegimeLow Earth
Perigee altitude210 kilometres (130 mi)
Apogee altitude910 kilometres (570 mi)
Inclination51.5 degrees
Period95.70 minutes

Kosmos 359 was an unmanned Soviet probe launched on 22 August 1970.[2] The probe's intended purpose was to explore Venus, but an error caused the final-stage rocket to malfunction. This left the craft trapped in an elliptical orbit around Earth for 410 days before orbital decay and atmospheric entry.[3] Kosmos 359 was launched five days after Venera 7 and had an identical design; had the craft not suffered a mission-ending failure, it would have landed on Venus shortly after Venera 7.[4] To publicly acknowledge the failure of the attempted Venus lander would be a public relations disaster for the Soviet space program; after the mission failed, the Venera spacecraft was renamed Kosmos 359 in order to conceal the mishap from the public.[5]


The lander was designed to be able to survive atmospheric pressures of up to 180 bar and temperatures of 580°C.[6] This was significantly greater than what was expected to be encountered, but significant uncertainties as to the surface temperatures and pressure of Venus resulted in the designers opting for a large margin of error.[6] The degree of hardening added mass to the probe, which limited the amount of mass available for scientific instruments on the probe and the interplanetary bus.[6]

Rocket malfunction

After reaching orbit, the main upper stage engine ignited late and shut down early after running for only twenty-five seconds. The error was ultimately attributed to an error in the DC transformer of the power supply system.[5]


Kosmos 359 carried a limited set of scientific instruments, including a solar wind detector, cosmic-ray detector, resistance thermometer, and aneroid barometer.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Krebs, Gunter. "Interplanetary Probes". Gunter's Space Page. Retrieved 31 October 2016.
  2. ^ Huntress, Wesley; Marov, Mikhail (2011). Soviet Robots in the Solar System. Chichester, UK: Praxis Publishing. p. 420. ISBN 978-1-4419-7897-4.
  3. ^ Walker, Doreen M.C Walker (March 1974). "Analysis of the Orbit of 1970-65D, Cosmos 359 Rocket". Planetary and Space Science. 22 (3): 391–402. Bibcode:1974P&SS...22..391W. doi:10.1016/0032-0633(74)90072-5.
  4. ^ Morov, V. I.; Bazilevsky, A. T. (2003). Space Science and Technology.
  5. ^ a b c Siddiqi, Asif A. (2018). Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958–2016 (PDF). The NASA history series (second ed.). Washington, DC: NASA History Program Office. p. 82. ISBN 9781626830424. LCCN 2017059404. SP2018-4041.
  6. ^ a b c Huntress Jr, Wesley T.; Marov, Mikhail (2011). Soviet Robots in the Solar System Mission Technologies and Discoveries. Springer-Praxis. p. 235. ISBN 9781441978974.