Luna-8 - Space launch mission detailed information
3 DEC 1965
Soviet Space Program
Ye-6 series probe designed to land on the Moon. Spun out of control during the final parts of the descent, resulting in the spacecraft impacting the lunar surface on December 6.
The Molniya was a modification of the well-known R-7 Semyorka rocket and had four stages. The 8K78 resulted from a crash program by the Korolev Bureau to develop a booster for launching planetary probes. A larger third stage was added along with a fourth stage (Blok L) that was designed to fire in-orbit to send the payload out of LEO. The basic R-7 core was also structurally strengthened and given more powerful engines. A rushed development produced multiple malfunctions of the upper stages, which led to its being replaced by the improved Molniya-M in 1964, but there were enough 8K78s left to continue flying them into 1967.