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The former Soviet Union sends the Luna 9 spacecraft to the Moon on January 31. The 220 pound-mass (100-kg) spherical spacecraft soft lands in the Ocean of Storms region on February 3, rolls to a stop, opens four petal-like covers, and then transmits the first panoramic television images from the Moon's surface.

The former Soviet Union launches the Luna 10 to the Moon on March 31. This massive (3,300 pound-mass [1,500-kg]) spacecraft becomes the first human-made object to achieve orbit around the Moon.

On May 30, NASA sends the Surveyor 1 lander spacecraft to the Moon. The versatile robot spacecraft successfully makes a soft landing (June 1) in the Ocean of Storms. It then transmits over 10,000 images from the lunar surface and performs numerous soil mechanics experiments in preparation for the Apollo Project human landing missions.

In mid-August, NASA sends the Lunar Orbiter 1 spacecraft to the Moon from Cape Canaveral. It is the first of five successful missions to collect detailed images of the Moon from lunar orbit. At the end of each mapping mission the orbiter spacecraft is intentionally crashed into the Moon to prevent interference with future orbital activities

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