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Zond 3 was a 1965 space probe which performed a flyby of the Moon's far side,[2] taking a number of quality photographs for its time. It was a member of the Soviet Zond program while also being part of the Mars 3MV project. It was unrelated to Zond spacecraft designed for manned circumlunar missions (Soyuz 7K-L1). It is believed that Zond 3 was initially designed as a companion spacecraft to Zond 2 to be launched to Mars during the 1964 launch window. The opportunity to launch was missed, and the spacecraft was launched on a Mars-crossing trajectory as a spacecraft test, even though Mars was no longer attainable.

Zond 3
Mission typeLunar science
COSPAR ID1965-056A
SATCAT no.01454
Mission duration228 days
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type3MV-4
Launch mass960 kg (2,120 lb)
Start of mission
Launch dateJuly 18, 1965, 14:38 (1965-07-18UTC14:38) UTC
RocketMolniya SL-6/A-2-e
Launch siteBaikonur LC-1/5
End of mission
Last contactMarch 3, 1966 (1966-03-04)
Orbital parameters
Reference systemHeliocentric
Perihelion0.9 AU (130 million km)
Aphelion1.56 AU (233 million km)
Period500 days
EpochJuly 19, 1965, 20:00 UTC[1]
Flyby of Moon
Closest approachJuly 20, 1965
Distance9,219 km (5,728 mi)
← Zond 2
None →


Spacecraft designEdit

The spacecraft was of the 3MV-4 type, similar to Zond 2.[3] In addition to a 106.4 mm focal length f/8 imaging system for visible light photography and ultraviolet spectrometry at 285-355 nanometres, it carried ultraviolet (190-275 nanometre) and infrared (3-4 micrometre) spectrophotometers, radiation sensors (gas-discharge and scintillation counters), charged particle detector, magnetometer, and micrometeoroid detector.[3][4] It also had an experimental ion engine.

Operational historyEdit

Zond 3 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 18, 1965, at 14:38 UTC, and was deployed from a Tyazhely Sputnik (65-056B) Earth-orbiting platform towards the Moon and interplanetary space. This was a repeat of a mission that failed in late 1963 intended to test communication at distances equivalent to the distances experienced by Mars and Earth.[5]

Zond 3's lunar flyby occurred on July 20 with a closest approach of 9,219 km (5,728 mi),[3] approximately 35 hours after launch. 25 visible light photographs and 3 ultraviolet spectra of very good quality were taken of the lunar surface, beginning at 01:24 UTC and 11,570 km (7,190 mi) prior to closest approach and ending at 02:32 UTC and 9,960 km (6,190 mi) past closest approach, covering a period of 68 minutes.[3][6] The photos covered 19 million km2 (7.3 million sq mi) of the lunar surface.[7]

Zond 3 proceeded on a trajectory across Mars' orbit, but not at a time when planetary encounter would occur. These images were transmitted by radio frequency on July 29 at a distance of 2.25 million km (1.40 million mi). To test telemetry, the camera film was rewound and retransmitted in mid-August, mid-September, and finally on October 23 at a distance of 31.5 million km (19.6 million mi), thus proving the ability of the communications system.[3] The subsequent transmissions were also at progressively slower data rates but higher quality.[5] The mission was ended after radio contact ceased on March 3, 1966, when it was at a distance of 153.5 million km (95.4 million mi).[3][4] It operated for 228 days, roughly equivalent to the time needed to survive a journey to Mars and exceeding that needed for Venus.[3]


  1. ^ "Zond 3 - Trajectory Details". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. NASA. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  2. ^ Harvey, Brian (August 17, 2007). Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration. Springer Science+Business Media. p. 82. ISBN 978-0-387-73976-2.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g LePage, Andrew J. (July 27, 2015). "The mission of Zond 3". The Space Review.
  4. ^ a b Huntress, Jr., Wesley T.; Marov, Mikhail Ya. (2011). Soviet Robots in the Solar System: Mission Technologies and Discoveries. Springer-Praxis Books in Space Exploration. Springer Science+Business Media. pp. 130–132. doi:10.1007/978-1-4419-7898-1. ISBN 978-1-4419-7897-4.
  5. ^ a b Teitel, Amy Shira (July 18, 2013). "Zond 3: First to See Moon's Far Side on the Way to Mars". Discovery News. Archived from the original on April 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Siddiqi, Asif A. (June 2002). Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000. Monographs in Aerospace History. 24. NASA. pp. 49–50. ISBN 0-16-067405-0. SP-2002-4524.
  7. ^ "Zond 3 - Details". NASA Space Science Data Coordinated Archive. NASA. Retrieved June 2, 2018.

External linksEdit

Preceded by
Zond 2
Zond program Succeeded by