With Lunokhod (Russian for Moon Луноход goers ), also known under the name Luna E-8, the type is referred to by Soviet lunar vehicles that explored the moon as part of the Luna program. It was the first radio controlled vehicles on another celestial body. Instrumental in the construction of the exploration vehicles of the Russian engineer Alexander Kemurdschian was involved.
There were three missions: The first ended with the explosion of the Proton rocket, two more were very successful:
- First Lunokhod - start attempt (E-8 # 201 ) on 19 February 1969 payload fairing of the launcher collapsed after about a minute flight time, which led to the destruction of the rocket
- Luna 17 (E-8 # 203 ) with the payload Lunokhod 1 in the year 1970/1971 and
- Luna 21 (E-8 No. 204) with the payload Lunokhod 2 in 1973
- Luna 25 with the payload Lunokhod 3 in 1977
To control the Lunochods candidates from the ranks of the Soviet military were sought with similar criteria as for the selection of cosmonauts were applied. Of the original 45 applicants in April 1968 remained after the end of training still 11 left. Something had to be worked during the lunar day around the clock, they formed two teams of five people ( commander, driver, operating engineer, navigator, radio operator ) with a substitute.
To facilitate the maneuver, the Lunochods were equipped with a centrifugal system, a floor sensor and an inclinometer.
In Lunokhod 2, a third front camera was added to improve maneuverability. Lunokhod 2 holds, as recently noted in the LRO images with a distance traveled of 42 km, the record for the distance of an extraterrestrial vehicle. Before that you went through apparently inaccurate measurements of Lunokhod 2 itself, of 37 km. Both cars were built by NPO Lavochkin SA.