In 1966 the Soviet Moon probe Luna 9 was the first spacecraft to make a soft landing on the lunar surface. Once it touched down, the probe opened, exposing a camera that snapped the first photographs taken from the Moon's surface.
This achievement ratcheted up the pressure of Russia's race with the United States to become the first nation to land a man on the Moon.
Luna 9 was one of 24 unmanned probes in the Luna programme.
Photo: The Luna 9 probe (NASA)
The Soviets make the first soft landing on the Moon.
A Russian probe sends back the first pictures taken from the Moon's surface.
Luna 9, the first Moon probe to achieve a soft landing and send back photos of the lunar surface, caught the West by surprise in 1966. The Russian spacecraft's data transmissions were intercepted by Jodrell Bank Observatory, and the pictures were published in a British newspaper before they were published in Russia.
Luna 9, internal designation Ye-6 No.13, was an unmanned space mission of the Soviet Union's Luna programme. On 3 February 1966 the Luna 9 spacecraft became the first spacecraft to achieve a soft landing on the Moon, or any planetary body other than Earth, and to transmit photographic data to Earth from the surface of another planetary body.