National Air & Space Museum Site Index
Milestones of Flight Gallery


The sign by the Viking lander test article. It reads

(proof test article)
First Spacecraft to Operate on the Surface of Mars

On July 20 and September 3, 1976, two identical Viking spacecraft successfully landed on Mars. The Viking landers were the first spacecraft to conduct prolonged scientific studies on the surface of another planet.

Instruments aboard the spacecraft provided valuable information on the Martian atmosphere and surface until late 1982. Biological experiments carried out on the Viking landers did not detect signs of life or any of the organic compounds that are abundant on Earth.

The Viking lander displayed here is a "proof test article" used on Earth to simulate the behavior of the actual landers and to test their responses to radio commands.

Height: 2 m (6 ft 6 in)
Length: 3 m (10 ft)
Weight, unfueled: 576 kg (1,270 lb)
Manufacturer: Martin Marietta for NASA
Launch vehicle: Titan III-Centaur

Transferred from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration

The Viking proof test article is NASM catalog #A19790215000.

See also NASA's Viking Project information page, the Viking lander and orbiter engineering models at the Virginia Air & Space Center, and the Kansas Cosmosphere's Viking lander model.

Viking lander sign in the Milestones of Flight gallery at the National Air & Space Museum.
Time picture taken Tue Jun 19 10:36:38 2007
Location picture taken Second Floor Balcony
Overlooking Milestones of Flight Gallery
National Air & Space Museum
Washington, DC
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