it became evident after the second N-1 rocket launch failure that
the U.S.S.R. could not send a man to the Moon ahead of the Americans,
the Soviets attempted to obtain the first lunar rock and soil samples,
sending a robot instead of a cosmonaut.
15, an automated sample return craft, was launched to the Moon two
days before Apollo 11. It crash-landed there shortly after U.S.
astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin first stepped onto the
Moon. If the Luna 15 lander had not crashed, it would have returned
to Earth with lunar soil just hours ahead of the Apollo 11 crew.