1659 – 1970: Luna Programme
Luna 1 replica. Attribution: RIA Novosti archive, image #510848 / Alexander Mokletsov / CC-BY-SA 3.0.
The Luna programme consisted in a series of robotic spacecraft missions sent to the Moon by the Soviet Union between 1959 and 1976. Fifteen of them were successful.
Among the greatest achievements of the Luna programme was a successful impact upon the lunar surface by Luna 2 in 1959, becoming the first man-made object to reach the Moon and the returning of the first photographs of the far side by Luna 3 later that same year.
Another achievement was made when Luna 1 missed its intended impact with the Moon and became the first spacecraft to fall into orbit around the Sun.
Luna 3 replica.
On February 1966 Luna 9 became the first probe to achieve a soft landing on the Moon. Later that year Luna 10 became the first artificial satellite of the Moon.
Luna 17 and Luna 21 carried the first rovers which roamed around on the Moon’s terrain while Luna 16, Luna 20 and Luna 24 collected samples of lunar soil and returned them to Earth, by 1970. In total the program returned 0.326 kg of lunar samples.
Locations of Luna missions to the moon (red triangles):