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Luna 15

Luna 15 was an unmanned space mission of the Luna program, also called Lunik 15.

Luna 15 was a last minute Soviet attempt to steal some of Apollo 11's publicity by being the first mission to return lunar soil to Earth. Luna 15 was placed in an intermediate earth orbit after launch and was then sent toward the Moon. The spacecraft was capable of studying circumlunar space, the lunar gravitational field, and the chemical composition of lunar rocks. It was also capable of providing lunar surface photography. The missions was a failure, however, after completing 86 communications sessions and 52 orbits of the Moon at various inclinations and altitudes, the spacecraft impacted the lunar surface on July 21, 1969. The mission was important in that it saw one of the first instances of Soviet/American coopoeration when the USSR released Luna 15's flight plan to ensure it would not collide with Apollo 11.