First Soviet Venera and Mars entry probes

This section covers early (1961-65) Soviet entry probes to Venus and Mars designed and built by Korolev's OKB-1 design bureau (now RKK Energia), all of which failed during launch or cruise. In 1965 further development of the deep space and lunar probes was handed over to NPO Lavochkin's Babakin Space Centre (then called OKB-301). Very few published details exist concerning the entry probes.

16.1.1 1VA entry probes

The first launches of atmospheric entry probes were those of Venera 1, lost en route, and its 'twin' that failed to leave Earth orbit. The Venera 1 entry capsule was not designed to transmit a signal from the Venusian atmosphere. One could thus argue that these 1VA entry probes should be classed as 'destructive entry probes' rather than an atmospheric entry probe in the modern sense of the phrase. The carrier spacecraft part of the 1VA probes were somewhat similar to those of the two Mars 1M craft, which were lost in launch failures in October 1960 (Figure 16.1).

Target Objectives

Prime Contractor Launch site, vehicle

Launch date Arrival date

Landing site co-ordinates End(s) of Mission(s) Mass

Payload experiments

Delivery architecture

Thermal aspects Power aspects

Communications architecture EDL architecture Landing speed(s) Active operations

(deployments, etc.) Key references


Demonstration of systems required for interplanetary flight; measurements of the environment in interplanetary space and close to Venus; entry into the Venus atmosphere and impact with the surface OKB-1

Baikonour, Molniya 8K78

Sputnik 7 Venera 1

04/02/1961 12/02/1961

Failed to leave Earth orbit Lost during cruise

Mass of capsule alone unknown; total for 1VA spacecraft: 643.5 kg Only a Soviet pennant in a capsule with a heatshield. It was possibly not even due to separate from the main spacecraft. It was not due to transmit a signal Delivery by flyby s/c, from which it was possibly not even due to separate Unknown Unknown

Probably not due to transmit a signal

Ablative aeroshell?



Marov and Grinspoon, 1998; Hunten et al., 1983; Kurt, 1994; Maksimov, 1997; Johnson, 1979; Chertok, 1999; Varfolomeyev, 1998

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