Exploring the Solar System

Exploring Mars

What was the Soviet Union’s Mars program?

The former Soviet Union was the first nation to send spacecraft to Mars. After a number of unsuccessful tries, the Soviets launched the Mars 1 spacecraft in late 1962, but lost radio contact with it after a few months. In 1971 they successfully put Mars 2 and Mars 3 into orbit around Mars. Both of these craft carried landing vehicles that successfully dropped onto the Martian surface. Regrettably, in each case radio contact was lost after only a few seconds. In 1973 the Soviets sent out four more spacecraft toward Mars, one of which successfully transmitted back data about the Red Planet.


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