Luna 9 was launched by a Molniya-M rocket, serial number 103-32, flying from Site 31/6 at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. Liftoff took place at 11:41:37 UTC on 31 January 1966. The first three stages of the four-stage carrier rocket injected the payload and fourth stage into low Earth orbit, at an altitude of 168 by 219 kilometres (104 by 136 mi) and 51. 8 degrees inclination. The fourth stage, a Blok-L, then fired to raise the orbit's perigee to a new apogee approximately 500,000 kilometres (310,000 mi), before deploying Luna 9 into a highly elliptical geocentric orbit.