First U.S. Image of the Moon
Date: 31 Jul 1964
Ranger 7 took this image, the first picture of the moon by a U.S. spacecraft, about 17 minutes before impacting the lunar surface. The large crater at center right is the 108 km diameter Alphonsus. Above it is Ptolemaeus and below it Arzachel. Mare Nubium is at center and left. The Ranger 7 impact site is off the frame, to the left of the upper left corner.
Ranger spacecraft were designed solely to take high-quality pictures of the moon for scientific study and to scout landing sites for Apollo astronauts. Ranger 7 was the first true success in the series and represents a turning point in the American space program. It transmitted 4,308 high-quality images in its final 17 minutes of flight.
Ranger 7 was launched 28 July 1964 and arrived at the moon on 31 July 1964.