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Ranger 4
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Ranger 04
Ranger 4 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 4 / Atlas D no. 133 / Agena B no. 6004)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, launch complex 12
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 331.12 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) gamma-ray spectrometer; 3) single-axis seismometer and 4) surface-scanning pulse radio experiment
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,

This spacecraft, similar in design to Ranger 3, was the first U.S. spacecraft to reach another celestial body. A power failure in the central computer and sequencer stopped the spacecraft's master clock and prevented the vehicle from performing any of its preplanned operations, such as opening its solar panels.

Drifting aimlessly and without any midcourse corrections, Ranger 4 impacted the Moon on its far side at 12:49:53 UT on 26 April 1962. Impact coordinates were 15 degrees 30' south latitude and 130 degrees 42' west longitude.

Although the spacecraft did not achieve its primary objective, the Atlas-Agena-Ranger combination performed without fault for the first time.

Key Dates
23 Apr 1962:  Launch (20:50 UT)
26 Apr 1962:  Lunar Impact (12:49:53 UT)
Status: Crashed on the Moon
Fast Facts
Ranger 04 Facts Even though the mission was unsuccessful, historians note that Ranger 4 marked the first time the U.S. Atlas-Agena booster rocket performed flawlessly.

It took 64 hours for the spacecraft to reach the Moon, but its instruments ran out of power after 10 hours of flight.

There were nine spacecraft in the Ranger program. The last three were successful.
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