Encyclopedia Astronautica
1968.09.14 - Zond 5


First successful circumlunar flight with recovery. Test flight of manned spacecraft; launched from an earth parking orbit to make a lunar flyby and return to earth. On September 18, 1968, the spacecraft flew around the moon at an altitude of 1950 km. High quality photographs of the earth were taken at a distance of 90,000 km. A biological payload of turtles, wine flies, meal worms, plants, seeds, bacteria, and other living matter was included in the flight. Before re-entry the gyroscopic platform went off line due to ground operator failure. However this time the self destruct command was not given. After a ballistic 20G re-entry the capsule splashed down in the Indian Ocean at 32:63 S, 65:55 E on September 21, 1968 16:08 GMT. Soviet naval vessels were 100 km from the landing location and recovered the spacecraft the next day, shipping it via Bombay back to Soviet Union.

Zond 5 is launched on schedule into a very accurate parking orbit (within 0.4 km of planned perigee, 0.2 km of apogee). Stage 1 separated and stage 2 ignited at T+126 seconds at 42 km altitude. The SAS abort tower was jettisoned at T+185 seconds. Stage 2 separated and Stage 3 ignited at T+338 seconds at 130 km. Third stage cut-off came at T+481 seconds at 161 km altitude. The L1 assembly then coasted for 251 seconds, followed by a 108 second Block D stage burn to put it into parking orbit. After 56 minutes in orbit, the Block D fired again to put the spacecraft on translunar trajectory.

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