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Ranger 02
Ranger 2 Mission to Our Solar System Ranger 2 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 2 / Atlas D no. 117 / Agena B no. 6002)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, launch complex 12
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 306.18 kg
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,

Like its predecessor, Ranger 2 was designed to operate in a highly elliptical Earth orbit that would take it into deep space beyond the Moon. Mission planners expected
that during five months of operation, they could verify both the technical design of the vehicle and conduct key scientific experiments to study the space environment over a
prolonged period. Since the Block I Rangers (Ranger 1 and 2) carried no rocket engine, they could not alter their trajectories.

On this attempt, Ranger 2, like its predecessor, failed to leave low-Earth orbit. This time, the Agena B stage failed to fire. In its low orbit, Ranger 2 lost its solar orientation and then eventually lost power; it reentered Earth's atmosphere on 19 November 1961.

The most probable cause of the failure was inoperation of the roll-control gyroscope on the Agena B guidance system. As a result, the stage had used up all attitude-control propellant for its first orbit insertion burn. At the time of the second burn, without proper attitude, the engine failed to fire.


Key Dates
18 Nov 1961:  Launch (08:12 UT)
Status: Unsuccessful
Fast Facts
Ranger 02 Facts Although Ranger 1 and 2 were key parts of America's lunar exploration efforts, there were no plans to send them to the Moon.

Plans instead called for the first two Rangers to be placed in highly elliptical Earth orbits that would carry them into deep space beyond the Moon.

Neither Ranger 1 nor Ranger 2 were successful.
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Al Hibbs Al Hibbs
Al Hibbs decided as a five-year-old that he wanted to go to the Moon. He did qualify as an astronaut, but his legacy is in robotic exploration. Read More...
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Last Updated: 1 Dec 2010