"Therefore the USSR sent detailed instructions to Jodrell Bank how to find their second lunar probe, Luna 2, that was launched on 12 September 1959 and hit the moon the next day."
from a block quote in this excellent answer to the question Why did Jodrell Bank assist the Soviet Union to collect data from their spacecraft in the mid 1960's? surprised me.
Launching one day and impacting the Moon the next sounds pretty fast relative to most lunar missions.
What are the records for the fastest trips to the Moon:
- from launch to landing or impact?
- from launch to low lunar orbit insertion?
I thought about adding a third; *low lunar flyby on return trajectory" but it's a bit messy to define the time that a low lunar flyby "happened" (e.g. Luna 3) whereas impact/landing and insertion can be fairly easily identified. If you can think of a way, it would certainly be an interesting addition to the answer.
- Asif A. Siddiqi's Deep Space Chronicle; A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958–2000 257 pages 2.1 MB
- Google Books Soviet and Russian Lunar Exploration this section of the book
- NASA's NSSDCA/COSPAR ID: 1959-014A
- see Locating the Impact of Luna-2 on the Moon's Face at Lunar Impact (found in this answer)
- YouTube: Soviets 'Lunik' Hits The Moon 1959/9/14