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Ranger 8
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Ranger 08
Ranger 8 Mission to Earth's Moon

Mission Type: Impact
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena B (no. 13 / Atlas D no. 196 / Agena B no. 6006)
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States, Launch Complex 1
NASA Center: Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Spacecraft Mass: 366.87 kg
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) Imaging system (six TV cameras)
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,

As successful as its predecessor, Ranger 8 returned 7,137 high-resolution photographs of the lunar surface prior to its scheduled impact at 09:57:37 UT on 20 February.

Unlike Ranger 7, however, Ranger 8 turned on its cameras about 8 minutes earlier to return pictures with resolution comparable to Earth-based telescopes (for calibration and comparison purposes). Controllers attempted to align the cameras along the main velocity vector (to reduce imagine smear) but abandoned this maneuver to allow greater area coverage.

There had also been a mysterious loss of telemetry during a midcourse correction on 18 February that gave rise for concern, although the mission was completed successfully.

Ranger 8 impacted at 2°43' north latitude and 24°38' east longitude, just 24 kilometers from its intended target point in the equatorial region of the Sea of Tranquillity - an area that Apollo mission planners were particularly interested in studying.

Key Dates
17 Feb 1965:  Launch (17:05 UT)
20 Feb 1965:  Lunar Impact (09:57:37 UT)
Status: Successful
Fast Facts
Ranger 08 Facts Ranger 8 returned 7,137 high-quality images of the Moon.

The spacecraft's cameras were turned on eight minutes earlier than Ranger 7's camera to capture Earth-based telescope quality images that could be compared with the closer photos.

Ranger 8 hit the Moon at about 2.68 km/s (5,995 mph).
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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