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Ranger 1 Information


Ranger Lunar Spacecraft

Ranger Lunar Spacecraft


Key Dates:

  • 08.23.61: Launch (10:04 UT)
  • 08.27.61: Telemetry Lost
  • 08.30.61: End of Mission
  • Status: Spacecraft Destroyed

Scientific Instruments:

  1. electrostatic analyzer
  2. photoconductive particle detectors
  3. Rubidium vapor magnetometer
  4. triple-coincidence cosmic-ray telescope
  5. cosmic-ray integrating ionization chamber
  6. x-ray scintillation detectors
  7. micrometeoroid dust particle detectors
  8. Lyman alpha scanning telescope

Ranger 1 Information:

As part of the pre-Apollo preparatins, NASA created the Ranger series of missions to take high-quality pictures of the Moon and transmit them back to Earth in real time. These images were not only to help select landing sites for future Apollo missions, they were also to be used for scientific study.

Each Ranger spacecraft was designed to make a "kamikaze" dive straight into the Moon and send close-range images back to Earth right up until they crashed into the surface. The cameras onboard each spacecraft were designed to provide different exposure times, fields of view, lenses, and scan rates, and they were arranged in two separate self-contained chains, each with its own power supply, timer, and transmitter.

Ranger 1 had the distinction of being the first US spacecraft to use a parking orbit around Earth before heading into deep space. Besides its mission to discover Apollo landing sites, it was also a chance to test technologies that would help take mankind to the Moon. It was also designed to study particles and fields in interplanetary space.

After liftoff, Ranger 1 experience a malfunction in its upper stage rocket booster. This left Ranger 1 stranded in low-Earth orbit for three days. The spacecraft burned up on reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

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