|Mission type||Venus atmospheric probe with flyby spacecraft|
|Mission duration||105 days|
|Launch mass||960 kg (2,120 lb)|
|Landing mass||377 kg (831 lb)|
|Dimensions||4.2 m × 1.1 m (13.8 ft × 3.6 ft)|
|Start of mission|
|Launch date||16 November 1965, 04:19UTC|
|Launch site||Baikonur 31/6|
|Perihelion altitude||0.68 AU|
|Aphelion altitude||0.99 AU|
|Venus impact (failed landing)|
|Impact date||1 March 1966|
Venera 3 (Russian: Венера-3 meaning Venus 3) was a Venera program space probe that was built and launched by the Soviet Union to explore the surface of Venus. It was launched on 16 November 1965 at 04:19 UTC from Baikonur, Kazakhstan, USSR. The probe comprised an entry probe, designed to enter the Venus atmosphere and parachute to the surface, and a carrier/flyby spacecraft, which carried the entry probe to Venus and also served as a communications relay for the entry probe.
During 1965, the Central Committee, frustrated at the poor track record of Sergei Korolev's OKB-1 design bureau, reassigned the planetary probe program to the Lavochkin Bureau. In over two dozen attempts dating back to 1958, Luna 2 and Luna 3 were the only probes to complete all of their mission objectives. In the meantime, the United States had succeeded with the Mariner 2 Venus probe and Mariner 4 Mars probe, and after a long string of lunar probe failures, Ranger 6 successfully impacted on the Moon (with a failed TV system), and Ranger 7 successfully sent back a series of TV pictures.
The Lavochkin Bureau began a comprehensive testing program of the Venera and Luna probes, while Korolev had always opposed the idea of bench tests except on manned spacecraft. Among other design flaws they discovered was that the Venera landers, after being subjected to a centrifuge test, failed at half the G forces that they were supposed to handle.
The mission of this spacecraft was to land on the Venusian surface. The entry body contained a radio communication system, scientific instruments, electrical power sources, and medallions bearing the Coat of Arms of the Soviet Union. The probe was sterilised before launch.
The probe's initial trajectory missed Venus by 60,550km and a course correction manoeuvre was carried out on 26 December 1965 which brought the probe onto a collision course with the planet. Contact with the probe was lost on 15 February 1966 probably due to overheating.
The entry probe crashed on Venus on 1 March 1966, making Venera 3 the first space probe to hit the surface of another planet. David Leverington wrote in his 2000 book that the Soviets lost communication with the spacecraft three months earlier than they initially reported, and surmised that the probe may have not impacted Venus.
The power system for the carrier spacecraft was notable in that it was the first operational use of Gallium Arsenide (GaAs) solar cells in space. GaAs solar cells, manufactured by Kvant , were chosen because of their higher performance in high temperature environments. Two two-square-meter solar panels charged the rechargeable batteries.
The entry probe was battery powered using non-rechargeable batteries
The probe differed from Venera 2 in not having a micrometeorite detector.
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