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Solar System Exploration
Ranger 9
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Ranger 09
Ranger 9 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 14 / Atlas D no. 204 / Agena B no. 6007)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, USA, , launch complex 12
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 367 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: Imaging system (6 TV cameras)
Spacecraft Dimensions: Hexagonal frame base: 1.5 m across; 2 solar panel wings extended from opposite sides of the base with a total span of 4.6 m; overall height: 3.6 m
Spacecraft Power: Solar panels and batteries
Maximum Power: 200 W
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,

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.

Ranger 9 was the final Ranger mission of the Block III series and closed out the program as a whole. Since both Ranger 7 and Ranger 8 had provided sufficient photographs of the mare regions (potential landing sites for the early Apollo missions), Ranger 9 was targeted to the more geologically interesting Alphonsus crater in the lunar highlands, at that time a possible site for recent volcanic activity. Following a midcourse correction on 23 March, the spacecraft headed directly to its impact point. Only 20 minutes prior to impact, Ranger 9 began taking the first of 5,814 pictures from an altitude of 2,100 kilometers.

Unlike its predecessors, the cameras this time were aimed directly in the direction of travel and provided some spectacular shots as the spacecraft approached the lunar surface. These pictures were converted for live viewing on commercial TV. Best resolution was up to 25 centimeters just prior to impact. The spacecraft crashed into the Moon at 14:08:20 UT on 24 March at 12.83° south latitude and 357.63° east longitude, about 6.5 kilometers from its scheduled target.

Key Dates
21 Mar 1965:  Launch (21:37:02 UT)
24 Mar 1965:  Lunar Impact (14:08:20 UT)
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Ranger 09 Facts TV networks provided real-time coverage of the images transmitted by Ranger 9 as it approached the lunar surface.

Since prior Rangers provided good images of potential Apollo landing sites, Ranger 9 was targeted to the more geologically interesting Alphonsus crater in the lunar highlands.

Ranger 9's impact formed a 14-meter crater that was later photographed from orbit by Apollo 16.
People Spotlight
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