Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 13 / Atlas D no. 196 / Agena B no. 6006)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, Launch Complex 1
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 366.87 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) Imaging system (six TV cameras)
Total Cost: Total research, development, launch, and support costs for the Ranger series of spacecraft (Rangers 1 through 9) was approximately $170 million.
Deep Space Chronicle: A Chronology of Deep Space and Planetary Probes 1958-2000, Monographs in Aerospace History No. 24, by Asif A. Siddiqi
National Space Science Data Center, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/
As successful as its predecessor, Ranger 8 returned 7,137 high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface prior to its scheduled impact at 09:57:37 UT on 20 February.
Unlike Ranger 7, however, Ranger 8 turned on its cameras about 8 minutes earlier to return pictures with resolution comparable to Earth-based telescopes (for calibration and comparison purposes). Controllers attempted to align the cameras along the main velocity vector (to reduce imagine smear) but abandoned this maneuver to allow greater area coverage.
There had also been a mysterious loss of telemetry during a midcourse correction on 18 February that gave rise for concern, although the mission was completed successfully.
Ranger 8 impacted at 2°43' north latitude and 24°38' east longitude, just 24 kilometers from its intended target point in the equatorial region of the Sea of Tranquillity - an area that Apollo mission planners were particularly interested in studying.