Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

Soviet spacecraft Venus-7 through the eyes of an artist

The USSR space program was largely able to become the first in an unofficial race with the United States. For example, it was the Soviet apparatus that first touched the surface of Venus. Consider the history of this soft landing.

Why is Venus?

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

If Americans were interested in Mars and the Moon (although they also launched vehicles to Venus), then Soviet scientists nevertheless rushed towards Venus. This is the second planet from the Sun and the earth's neighbor, which is often called the evil twin of Earth because of its extreme characteristics.

It was previously believed that life could be located on Venus. The fact is that a dense atmospheric layer obscures the view to the surface. This led to the fact that in the 18-19 centuries. believed that the forest and ingenuous Venusians could be hidden below. Of course, in the USSR, nothing like this was expected. Is it possible to survive at hellish temperature, high atmospheric pressure and acid rain?

Well, modern science suspects what is possible. Therefore, Russian-American cooperation is putting forward a new project. But in the USSR they did not think about it. They wanted to explore the planet. Perhaps there also played a kind of excitement. It would be prestigious to land the ship first in practically unrealistic conditions, ahead of the United States. Perhaps this explains the stubbornness during launches, because from the Soviet side 12 generations of automatic interplanetary launches have started.

First soft landing

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

The first photographs of another planet, made by the Soviet apparatus Venus-9C, first tested technologies on two satellites, where the first had an accident and lost contact with the second (Venus-1). In the second flight limited to the collection of information. The third crashed, and with the fourth lost contact with the entrance to the atmosphere. The fifth and sixth vehicles concentrated on the chemical study of the atmosphere, while Venus-7 hit the mark! It was this Soviet spacecraft that for the first time managed to make a soft landing on the surface of the second planet from the Sun. The device started in 1970 from the Baikonur cosmodrome. After 120 days, the station reached the planet. During the descent, a parachute was used (at an altitude of 55 km) and on December 15, the device performed a landing.

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

Photos of the surface of Venus taken by the Soviet apparatus Venus-10

But the main goal was not in the landing itself, and the efficiency of the device. It was important for scientists to get valuable data, which means Venus-7 had to cope with asphyxiating conditions. Therefore, the researchers carefully analyzed all previous flights. It was believed that the atmospheric pressure reaches 100 atmospheres, and the surface is heated to five hundred degrees!

Mission Features

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

Venus through the eyes of the Soviet apparatus Venus-13

To survive, it was necessary to improve the ship. His body had to withstand strong pressure, so titanium was chosen as the material (although previously limited to aluminum-magnesium alloy). The titanic case was designed for a pressure of 180 atmospheres. Here, the parachute system was changed, replacing the one-stage version with a scale conical shape (2.8 m 2).

Protection against temperature was also required, so fiberglass was chosen as thermal insulation, as well as glass wool. To make the landing really soft, a special shock absorber was installed at the bottom of the device.

They added more scientific equipment, as well as the whole 15 days that Venus-7 spent on the planet, recharged the solar batteries from the star. As a result, the mass of the ship surpassed the previous models by 50 kg (1180 kg).

Mission Summary

Soviet feat: the first landing of a spacecraft on Venus

Image of the surface of the planet, obtained from the Venus-14 unit

The first landing on Venus was very successful. All upgrades allowed the device to function for 53 minutes, where 20 minutes were allocated for broadcasting from the surface. Scientists managed to determine the temperature, conduct radio measurements of the Doppler signal change and calculate the exact pressure level.

But the most important thing was that Venus-7 proved the very possibility of landing on the second planet of the system. Further missions only improved the performance of the data and the duration of their stay on the surface. For example, the Venus-9 mission already sent the first black and white photographs of the surface, while the colored footage arrived from Venus-13 in 1981.


The program “Venus” was a great achievement for the USSR, who were able to establish their primacy here. However, scientific achievements still have to be the result of cooperation, not rivalry, which is proved by modern examples of Russia and the USA, which together launch people on the ISS, prepare a moon mission and another flight to Venus. Although we will not hide, competition is still present. But this is normal as long as humanity continues to advance in space exploration.

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