Soviet engineers and space scientists come achingly close to succeeding in landing a robotic lunar lander on the moon’s surface. Luna 8, the latest in a long line of problem-plagued would-be moon explorers, lifts off. A new, improved version of the nearly 3,500-pound spacecraft, Luna 8 manages to last longer than the previous three attempts at Luna landers, but loses control mere minutes from a safe touchdown, crashing into the moon instead. The Soviet Union will finally achieve a safe landing on the moon just two months later with Luna 9.
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