National Aeronautics and Space Administration Logo
Follow this link to skip to the main content NASA Banner
Solar System Exploration
News & Events
Moon Mission 50-Year Anniversary: A Vintage Look Back
Moon Mission 50-Year Anniversary: A Vintage Look Back
30 Jul 2014
(Source: Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

Black and white image of the moon.
Ranger 7 took this image, the first picture of the Moon by a U.S. spacecraft, on 31 July 1964 at 13:09 UT (9:09 AM EDT) about 17 minutes before impacting the lunar surface. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

In the early days of lunar exploration, no one knew what the surface of the moon was really like. On July 31, 1964, NASA obtained the first close-up photographs of the moon from Ranger 7, a spacecraft that made a historic impact that day.

The short 1964 documentary "Lunar Bridgehead," produced by NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, chronicles the moments leading up to and following Ranger 7 mission's lunar impact 50 years ago. The mission had the objective of sending back photos of the small-scale topography on parts of the moon's surface, for the benefit of science and a future human voyage to the moon.

The film is available online at:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=eYm3AulBm8I

Ranger 7 marked the first successful mission from the United States to explore the moon.

"It looks as though this particular shot has been indeed a textbook operation," William H. Pickering, the director of JPL during the mission, said at the time.

Ranger 7, which included two solar panel wings and six TV cameras, was built at JPL. It launched on July 28, 1964.
The spacecraft sent back more than 4,300 photos. Engineers at the Goldstone antenna tracking station in the Mojave

Desert were the first to glimpse these first pictures of the lunar surface.

The black-and-white JPL film shows the anticipation and excitement of the people involved in the mission. As the 11-foot-tall (3.6-meter) spacecraft approached the moon -- "Stand by for impact," the voice from Goldstone announced - the countdown began, ending in applause and cheering.

For more information about Ranger 7, visit:

http://solarsystem.nasa.gov/missions/profile.cfm?Sort=Target&Target=Moon&MCode=Ranger_07


Elizabeth Landau
818-354-6425
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
elizabeth.landau@jpl.nasa.gov
  1. 2014-250
News Archive Search  Go!
Show  results per page
 
 
Awards and Recognition   Solar System Exploration Roadmap   Contact Us   Site Map   Print This Page
NASA Official: Kristen Erickson
Advisory: Dr. James Green, Director of Planetary Science
Outreach Manager: Alice Wessen
Curator/Editor: Phil Davis
Science Writer: Autumn Burdick
Producer: Greg Baerg
Webmaster: David Martin
> NASA Science Mission Directorate
> Budgets, Strategic Plans and Accountability Reports
> Equal Employment Opportunity Data
   Posted Pursuant to the No Fear Act
> Information-Dissemination Policies and Inventories
> Freedom of Information Act
> Privacy Policy & Important Notices
> Inspector General Hotline
> Office of the Inspector General
> NASA Communications Policy
> USA.gov
> ExpectMore.gov
> NASA Advisory Council
> Open Government at NASA
Last Updated: 30 Jul 2014