EXPLORING SPACE - FOR ALL MANKIND-----------------------------------------This blog is to proliferate space travel and exploration to people the world over, in an attempt to inspire a sense of awe and wonder into mankind's greatest accomplishment - the exploration of the stars.---Former NASA History Facebook and Twitter content creator.----------------------Passionate about spaceflight since the age of two, I live and breath rockets, NASA, and anything space. I also enjoy Florida History and World's Fairs. I'm an avid explorer, and I'll occasionally post images from my travels.--------------21 - DC/VA/FL

Although it completed its mission after the first crewed Lunar landing, Luna 16 is notable for having achieved the first completely robotic sample return mission from the surface of another celestial body. The Soviet craft launched on September 12, 1970, and landed on the Moon’s Sea of Fertility on September 20. The craft is also historic for making the first landing on the Moon during the local night, all previous missions landing during periods of sunlight.

                The descent module of the craft was equipped with television cameras, temperature and radiation equipment, and a sample arm with a small drilling ring, while the ascent module consisted of a reentry vehicle, sample canister, and small rocket motor. The drill reached a depth of 35 centimeters in the lunar regolith before encountering solid rock. This material, about 101 grams in all, was then transferred to the sample canister in the ascent stage. Twenty-six hours after landing on the surface, the ascent stage of the craft lifted off from the surface on a direct trajectory for the Earth, arriving three days later, on September 24. Luna 16 was the first mission to return lunar samples by the Soviet Union, and was the first of three successful attempts by them to return samples.

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    It was such an audacious mission profile, and one heck of a complex vehicle. I’m amazed at its successes.
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