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Russia and Solar System Exploration

For three decades (1959-1988) the former Soviet Union was at the vanguard of solar system exploration, repeatedly achieving historic milestones such as the first lunar flyby, lunar impact, lunar lander, lunar orbiter, unmanned lunar sample return, lunar rover, Venus atmospheric and surface probes, and Venus radar mapper. At the 30th anniversary celebrations of the launch of Sputnik 1, Soviet officials painted an ambitious plan for solar system exploration of nearly a dozen complex missions targeting natural bodies from the Sun to as far away as Saturn. However, only the Phobos missions of 1988, which were less than a year from launch, ever left the Earth, and both of those spacecraft failed in their primary missions. The Russian Federation, the beneficiary of a great solar system exploration legacy, is now struggling to launch two Mars-bound spacecraft before the end of the decade. All other proposed flights will undoubtedly be deferred until the next century (Reference 159).

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Page last modified: 10-04-2016 19:07:15 ZULU