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Ranger 6
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Ranger 06
Ranger 6 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 8 / Atlas D no. 199 / Agena B no. 6008)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, Launch Complex 12
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 364.69 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system (six TV cameras)
Spacecraft Power: 200.0 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,

This fourth American attempt at lunar impact was the closest success. The spacecraft, the first Block III type vehicle with a suite of six TV cameras, was sterilized to avoid contaminating the lunar surface. The series would also serve as a test bed for future interplanetary spacecraft by deploying systems (such as solar panels) that could be used for more ambitious missions.

The Block III spacecraft carried a 173-kg TV unit (replacing the impact capsule carried on the Block II Ranger spacecraft). The six cameras included two full-scan and four partial-scan cameras. Ranger 6 flew to the Moon successfully and impacted precisely on schedule at 09:24:32 UT on 2 February. Unfortunately, the power supply for the TV camera package had short-circuited three days previously during Atlas booster separation and left the system inoperable. The cameras were to have transmitted high-resolution photos of the lunar approach from 1,448 km to 6.4 km range in support of Project Apollo.

Impact coordinates were 9 degrees, 24' north latitude and 21 degrees, 30' east longitude.

Key Dates
30 Jan 1964:  Launch (15:49:09 UT)
2 Feb 1964:  Lunar Impact (09:24:32 UT)
Status: Partial Success
Fast Facts
Ranger 06 Facts Rangers 6 through 9 were the third generation of Ranger spacecraft -- and also the most successful.

Ranger 6 performed perfectly, but a short in its imaging system (right) prevented it from sending back pictures.

The most likely cause of failure was due to an arc-over in the TV power system when it inadvertently turned on for 67 seconds about 2 minutes after launch.
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: 6 Dec 2010