In 1984 the Soviet Union launched the Vega 1 and Vega 2 spacecraft, which flew by Venus, dispatched scientific instruments into its atmosphere, then went on to pass through the tail of Comet Halley and transmit data on it back to Earth. The multinational mission involved scientists and instruments from Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, France, East and West Germany, Hungary, Poland, the United States, and the Soviet Union, and marked a new era of international cooperation for the Soviet space program.
French scientists designed Vega's main Venus experiment, a balloon carrying scientific instruments that was released into the atmosphere to measure cloud activity. Vega also released a Soviet-designed lander to investigate the planet's surface. This bus, for carrying the atmospheric experiment, and the landing apparatus are engineering models donated to the Museum by J. Buckner Hightower and Gregory W. Schnurr and Lavochkin Scientific Production Association.
Gift of J. Buckner Hightower and Gregory W. Schnurr and Lavochkin Scientific Production Association