Luna 15

Luna 15The Soviet Union launches unmanned space probe Luna 15 toward the moon, the Soviet space program’s last attempt to claim a victory in the race to the moon. Intended to land on the moon and gather a core sample of lunar soil which will then be rocketed back to Earth, hopefully ahead of the arrival of lunar soil samples from the concurrent American Apollo 11 moon landing attempt, Luna 15’s lander detaches and attempts its landing on July 20th…only to crash into the moon’s surface, losing all contact with Earth, while NASA astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin prepare to depart with their soil samples intact. In a rare display of international cooperation, the Soviets shared basic orbital parameters of Luna 15’s flight with NASA to avoid any navigational hazards for Apollo 11.