September 15, 2021

Today in 1968, the Soviet spacecraft Zond 5 was launched and later became the first spacecraft to orbit the Moon and return to Earth. Zond 5 carried a large biological payload, including two Steppe tortoises. The two tortoises survived their flight around the Moon and were alive upon their return to Earth after six days in space.

The two Zond 5 tortoises are examined in Moscow following their circumlunar orbit. Credit: RKK Energia