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Surveyor 1
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Surveyor 01
Surveyor 1 Mission to Earth's Moon

Goals: This was the first of 7 robotic spacecraft in the Surveyor program, which prepared for the upcoming Apollo missions by developing and validating technologies for soft landings on the Moon and acquiring information about the lunar surface.

Accomplishments: Following on the heels of the troublesome Ranger series of lunar missions, Surveyor 1 was a complete success. It achieved the first true soft landing on the Moon, using a retrorocket and then a bank of 3 thrusters to reduce its speed from 9,600 km/h (almost 6,000 mph) at an altitude of 76 km (47 miles) to just 5 km/h (3 mph) before the thrusters were shut off to avoid disturbing the landing site, and it was allowed to free-fall the remaining 4.3 m (14 feet) to the surface. The spacecraft transmitted more than 11,000 pictures along with information about the lunar surface's bearing strength, radar reflectivity, and temperature.


Key Dates
30 May 1966:  Launch (14:41:01 UT)
2 Jun 1966:  Lunar Landing (06:17:36 UT)
13 Jul 1966:  Primary Mission Complete
7 Jan 1967:  Last Contact
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Surveyor 01 Facts Surveyor 1 marked the first true soft landing on the Moon.

The landing helped pave the way for Apollo astronauts to safely land on the Moon.

It also transmitted the first American pictures from the surface of the Moon. (Image: Surveyor 1's shadow on the Moon)
Science & Technology Features
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