Hard landing

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In space travel, a hard landing is the unbraked or only partially braked impact of a space probe on another celestial body.

Hard moon landings were planned for the first lunar probes in the USA and the USSR (1958 to around 1960), but instead they flew by . In order to hit the moon on the necessary curved path, the accuracy of the rocket launches (final speed and direction of the top rocket stage ) with only a few per mille was not sufficient. It was not until the eleventh mission to the moon, on September 13, 1959, that the Soviet Lunik 2 probe successfully landed on the moon for the first time.

The goal of hard moon landings - the opposite of which was called " soft landing " (instead of correctly "soft landing") - was among others:

  • Further development of space technology and more precise orbit maneuvers
  • Success in prestige and propaganda (especially during the Cold War) by “hitting” a distant target
  • first exploration of celestial bodies (e.g. photos of the back of the moon by Lunik 3 and close-ups by Ranger 7 to 9 )
  • Exploring their atmospheres and magnetic fields
  • Impactors and the triggering of artificial moonquakes
  • Preparation of later "soft landings"
  • from the 1990s incomplete braking or atmospheric braking
  • Deposition of a penetrator on a minor planet or comet.


  • Marcus Tuner: Looking for the landing site . Franckh, Stuttgart 1967.
  • Rainer Maria Wallisfurth: Russia's way to the moon . Econ, Düsseldorf 1964.

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