Luna 11
Mission typeLunar orbiter
COSPAR ID1966-078A
SATCAT no.2406
Mission duration38 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft typeE-6LF
ManufacturerGSMZ Lavochkin
Launch mass1,640 kilograms (3,620 lb)
Start of mission
Launch dateAugust 24, 1966, 08:09:00 (1966-08-24UTC08:09Z) UTC
RocketMolniya-M 8K78M
Launch siteBaikonur 31/6
End of mission
Last contactOctober 1, 1966 (1966-11)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemSelenocentric
Semi-major axis2,414.5 kilometres (1,500.3 mi)
Periselene altitude1,898 kilometres (1,179 mi)
Aposelene altitude2,931 kilometres (1,821 mi)
Inclination27 degrees
Period178 minutes
Epoch17 August 1966, 20:00:00 UTC[1]
Lunar orbiter
Orbital insertionAugust 27, 1966, 21:49 UTC
Imaging system for lunar photography
Gamma-ray spectrometer
Radiation detectors
Infrared radiometer
Meteoroid detector
R-1 transmission experiment

Luna 11 (E-6LF series) was an uncrewed space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna program. It was also called Lunik 11. Luna 11 was launched towards the Moon from an Earth-orbiting platform and entered lunar orbit on 27 August 1966.


The objectives of the mission included the study of:

  • lunar gamma and X-ray emissions in order to determine the Moon's chemical composition;
  • lunar gravitational anomalies;
  • the concentration of meteorite streams near the Moon;
  • the intensity of hard corpuscular radiation near the Moon.

137 radio transmissions and 277 orbits of the Moon were completed before the batteries failed on 1 October 1966.

This subset of the “second-generation” Luna spacecraft, the Ye-6LF, was designed to take the first photographs of the surface of the Moon from lunar orbit. A secondary objective was to obtain data on mass concentrations (“mascons”) on the Moon first detected by Luna 10. Using the Ye-6 bus, a suite of scientific instruments (plus an imaging system similar to the one used on Zond 3) replaced the small lander capsule used on the soft-landing flights. The resolution of the photos was 15 to 20 meters. A technological experiment included testing the efficiency of gear transmission in vacuum as a test for a future lunar rover.

Luna 11, launched only two weeks after the U.S. Lunar Orbiter, entered lunar orbit at 21:49 UT on 27 August. Parameters were 160 x 1,193 kilometers. During the mission, the TV camera failed to return usable images because the spacecraft lost proper orientation to face the lunar surface when a foreign object was lodged in the nozzle of one of the attitude-control thrusters. The other instruments functioned without fault before the mission formally ended on 1 October 1966 after the power supply had been depleted.


  1. ^ "NASA - NSSDCA - Spacecraft - Trajectory Details". Retrieved 2018-05-02.

External links

  • Zarya - Luna programme chronology