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Luna Ye-8-5M (Luna 23, 24)


Ye-8-5M Return rocket

The Ye-8-5M lunar sample return spacecraft were improved versions of the Ye-8-5 lunar landers to recover a deep drill sample from the unexplored Mare Crisium, the location of a large lunar mascon.

Like their predecessors, they feature an landing stage, drop tanks during the cruise phase and a return stage with a small spherical capsule. The probes are acquired by a new drill system, which drills the lunar soil to a depth of 2.5 meters and transfers the sample via a rail system to the return capsule. The spacecraft is battery powered.

The probe featured a KTDU-417 engine for orbit insertion and landing. It consisted of a turbopump-fed high-thrust engine with two KTDU-417-B low-thrust chambers.

Luna 23 was launched on 28 October 1974, entered lunar orbit on 2 November 1974, but failed to gather samples after the landing on 6 November 1974, but apparently some radio contact was established. In 2012 it was shown on images taken by the LRO, that the probe toppled over after landing.

A second flight failed due to a launch vehicle failure on 16 October 1975. The upper stage malfunctioned, and the spacecraft failed to achieve orbit.

Luna 24 was launched on 9 August 1976, entered lunar orbit on 14 August 1976 and successfully landed on 18 August 1976. The lander deployed its sample drill and pushed its drilling head about 2 meters into the lunar soil. The sample was transferred to the small return capsule, and after nearly a day on the Moon, Luna 24 lifted off successfully on 19 August 1976. The return capsule entered Earth's atmosphere and parachuted safely to the ground on 22 August 1976. The probe returned 170.1 grams of lunar soil.

Nation: USSR
Type / Application: Lunar lander and sample return
Contractors: GSMZ Lavochkin
Propulsion: KTDU-417
Power: Batteries
Mass: 5600 kg
Satellite COSPAR Date LS Launch Vehicle Remarks
Luna 23 (Ye-8-5M №410) 1974-084A 28.10.1974 Ba LC-81/24 Proton-K Blok-D
Luna (24a) (Ye-8-5M №412) 1975-F05 16.10.1975 Ba LC-81/23 F Proton-K Blok-D
Luna 24 (Ye-8-5M №413) 1976-081A 09.08.1976 Ba LC-81/23 Proton-K Blok-D

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