This Day in History: First Probe Launched to Venus (February 12, 1960)

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

Although Venera 1 ended up returning no data, the Russian spacecraft launched on this day in history was the first to fly by the mysteriously-shrouded planet in our solar system.

Venera 1 was an unmanned Soviet spacecraft launched into space on February 12, 1960. The probe was outfitted with a variety of scientific instruments to analyze the second planet closest to the sun.

Although the launch was successful, contact with the probe was lost a week after launch. It was confirmed that it passed by Venus in May of 1961, but with no contact, no data was returned.

Future Venera spacecraft would have more success. The United States Mariner 1 would also fail before Mariner 2 made a successful fly-by of Venus in late 1962.

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