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, http://nssdc.gsfc.nasa.gov/
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.