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  Satellites - Robotic Probes
  NASA's Ranger lunar imagery program (1961-1965)

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Author Topic:   NASA's Ranger lunar imagery program (1961-1965)
Fra Mauro
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Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 11-15-2012 07:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Was Project Ranger worth the cost and effort, in light of six failures in nine missions?

I just read the official NASA history and there was substantial criticism of the program at the time.

Apollo-Soyuz
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Posts: 868
From: Shady Side, Md
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 11-15-2012 10:31 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Apollo-Soyuz   Click Here to Email Apollo-Soyuz     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I think some of the criticism about the program resulted from the necessity to sterilize the spacecraft. If you remember, the Ranger's were to deposit a seismometer on the moon thus the necessity of the sterilization.

What the project did not know at the time, the sterilization process was affecting the electronics of the spacecraft. The management of the Ranger program was also criticized for its handling of the program.

Fra Mauro
Member

Posts: 1017
From: Maspeth, NY
Registered: Jul 2002

posted 11-15-2012 10:48 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Fra Mauro   Click Here to Email Fra Mauro     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Also, with the Lunar Orbiter program on the way, scientists didn't see much values in a probe that didn't carry anything in the way of experiments.

ilbasso
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Posts: 1494
From: Greensboro, NC USA
Registered: Feb 2006

posted 11-15-2012 11:29 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for ilbasso   Click Here to Email ilbasso     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
If nothing else, Ranger gave us practice in navigating from the Earth to the Moon and aiming at specific targets. It wasn't many years before Ranger that some of our initial Moon shots missed the Moon altogether.

We also learned that the cratering on the Moon's regolith was such that it appeared the same as you approached the surface. That is, any given frame of TV imagery on the way down showed the same kind of mix of large and small craters, at any scale of the image.

Jay Gallentine
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Posts: 249
From: Shorewood, MN, USA
Registered: Sep 2004

posted 11-15-2012 09:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Gallentine   Click Here to Email Jay Gallentine     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Six failures in nine missions had everything to do with NASA and JPL learning how to run a program together - as well as learning how to build a spacecraft.

Two very different management philosophies and design approaches were simultaneously in play.

Don't forget the development issues. Ranger pioneered a whole host of technologies - from three-axis stabilization to lunar rough-landing to live TV from the moon. Nearly all of it had to be worked out from scratch.

I'd have to say yes, it was worth the cost and effort. If anything, it was a good lesson in communication and leaping before you looked!

All times are CT (US)

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