Russian Planetary Exploration

History, Development, Legacy and Prospects

Brian Harvey

Russian Planetary ExplorationIn all, the Soviet Union and Russia have launched 54 interplanetary spacecraft, often with ground-breaking results. Although there have been many heartbreaking disappointments, the years 1975–86 marked a high summer of technical and scientific success. The knowledge gained from this period was considerable and has transformed our views of the planets Venus and Mars. In addition, the Soviet Union achieved many important ‘firsts’ in its program, including: Now, 50 years after the first Sputnik, the Russians are making fresh plans to return to the planets. In a daring and complex mission, Phobos Grunt will land on Mars’ little moon Phobos, scoop up soil samples and return them to Earth – a new first in space exploration.

Russian Planetary Exploration assesses the scientific haul of data from the Venus and Mars missions and examines the engineering techniques and the science packages used, as well as the difficulties which ruined several missions. The book is illustrated with photographs taken by Soviet Venus and Mars probes, and with material from the program that has only come to light in recent years, such as pictures of the spacecraft, diagrams of the flight paths and landing techniques and maps of the landing sites.

Table of Contents

Author's preface
List of figures
List of abbreviations and acronyms
  1. Aelita
  2. First plans
  3. The first Mars, Venus probes
  4. OKB Lavochkin
  5. First landfall on Venus, Mars
  6. The high summer of Soviet planetary exploration, 1975 - 1986
  7. Phobos, crisis and decline
  8. Returning to the planets?
  9. The legacy
Appendix A: Soviet and Russian planetary missions
Appendix B: Where are they now?
Appendix C: Bibliography

Extent: 384 pages
Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: December 2006
ISBN: 978-0-387-46343-8

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