- 01.26.62: Launch (20:30 UT)
- 01.28.62: End of Mission
- Status: In Heliocentric Orbit
- imaging system
- gamma-ray spectrometer
- single-axis seismometer
- surface-scanning pulse radio experiment
Ranger 3 Information:
Each Ranger spacecraft was designed to make a "kazikaze" 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.
With Ranger 3, NASA put its "kamikaze" program into effect, planning to make a hard landing the Moon. The goal was to deploy a small instrument package containing a seismometer on the lunar surface.
Like its predecessors, Ranger 3 also malfunctioned, this time in its guidance system. The spacecraft went hurtling past the Moon at a distance of 36,793 km (22,862 miles). Its speed was too high to allow it to enter lunar orbit. The spacecraft did provide the first measurements of interplanetary gamma-ray flux. Ranger 3 eventually settled into a heliocentric (sun-centered) orbit.