Ranger 9 was the final Ranger mission of the Block 3 series and closed out the program as a whole.

Since both Ranger 7 and Ranger 8 had provided sufficient photographs of the mare regions (potential landing sites for the early Apollo missions), Ranger 9 was targeted to the more geologically interesting Alphonsus crater in the lunar highlands, a possible site for recent volcanic activity.

Following a mid-course correction on March 23, 1965 the spacecraft headed directly to its impact point. Only 20 minutes prior to impact, Ranger 9 began taking the first of 5,814 pictures from an altitude of 1,305 miles (2,100 kilometers).

Unlike its predecessors, the cameras this time were aimed directly in the direction of travel and provided some spectacular shots as the spacecraft approached the lunar surface. These pictures were converted for live viewing on commercial TV. Best resolution was up 10 to 12 inches (25 to 30 centimeters) just prior to impact.

The spacecraft crashed onto the Moon at 14:08:20 UT March 24, 1965 at 12.83 degrees south latitude and 357.63 degrees east longitude, about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) from its scheduled target at a velocity of 1.7 miles per second (2.67 kilometers per second).


Siddiqi, Asif A. Beyond Earth: A Chronicle of Deep Space Exploration, 1958-2016. NASA History Program Office, 2018.

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