Zond 4

Zond 4The Soviet Union launches an unmanned test flight of the Soyuz 7K-L1 command/service module, a spacecraft intended to orbit the moon with cosmonauts aboard. This unmanned flight, however, is designated Zond 4, and on its way back into Earth’s atmosphere it loses attitude control. With no precision guidance to ensure that Zond 4 will land on Soviet soil, Russian space authorities command the vehicle to self-destruct in mid-air to prevent their space technology from falling into another country’s hands. (The image accompanying this historical entry is computer-generated, and not a real photo.)