Spacecraft above Moon.

Artist's concept of Lunar Orbiter at the Moon.

Goals: Lunar Orbiter 5 was to photograph potential Apollo and Surveyor landing sites and survey previously unphotographed parts of the Moon's far side. It was also to measure radiation intensity and the frequency of micrometeoroid impacts in the lunar environment, and provide detailed orbital data to enable mapping of the Moon's gravitational field.

Accomplishments: The spacecraft photographed 36 different areas on the near side (including 5 potential Apollo landing sites and several for Surveyor) and mapped most of the far side, bringing total coverage of the Lunar Orbiter program to 99 percent of the lunar surface. A special 10-day period of continuous tracking of Lunar Orbiter 5 permitted U.S. scientists to produce a detailed gravity map of the Moon's near side, revealing the locations of the Moon's mass concentrations.

1 Aug 1967: Launch
5 Aug 1967: Lunar Orbit Insertion
31 Jan 1968: Deliberately Crashed into Lunar Surface


Mission Type: Orbiter
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Agena D (no. 24 / Atlas D no. 5805 / Agena D no. AD159 / 6634)
Launch Site: Eastern Test Range / launch complex 13, Cape Canaveral, USA
NASA Center: Langley Research Center
Spacecraft Mass: 385.6 kg at launch
Spacecraft Instruments: 1) imaging system; 2) micrometeoroid detectors; and 3) radiation dosimeters
Spacecraft Dimensions: 2 m high, 5.2 m across with dish and omnidirectional antenna deployed
Spacecraft Power: Four solar panels; nickel-cadmium batteries for use in Moon's shadow
Maximum Power: 375 watts
Antenna Diameter: 1 meter (high-gain antenna)
Total Cost: $163 million (total for all 5 spacecraft in Lunar Orbiter program)
References:
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/

Solar System Log by Andrew Wilson, published 1987 by Jane's Publishing Co. Ltd.

Erik M. Conway, Historian, Jet Propulsion Laboratory


Lunar Orbiter 5 was the last in a series of highly successful missions to map the Moon for potential landing sites and conduct general observational surveys. Two days after a midcourse correction on 3 August, it entered lunar orbit at 16:48 UT. Initial orbital parameters were 196 x 6,040 kilometers at 85.0° inclination.

The spacecraft photographed 36 different areas on the near side and mapped most of the far side via a set of 212 frames during its first month in orbit. These included five potential Apollo landing sites as well as possible targets for Surveyor missions. Controllers also extensively used the spacecraft to map the Moon's gravitational field in order to predict orbital perturbations on future lunar orbital missions.

The probe also obtained spectacular high-quality photos of Earth showing Africa and the Middle East. Lunar Orbiter 5 was commanded to land on the lunar surface and did so at 0° north latitude and 70° west longitude on 31 January 1968. In total, the five Lunar Orbiters photographed 99 percent of the lunar surface.

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