Surveyor 2, similar in design to its predecessor, was aimed for a lunar soft-landing in Sinus Medii. During the coast to the Moon, at 05:00 UT on Sept. 21, 1966, one of three thrusters failed to ignite for a 9.8-second mid-course correction, and as a result, put the spacecraft into an unwanted spin.

Despite as many as 39 repeated attempts to fire the recalcitrant thruster, the engine failed to ignite, and Surveyor 2 headed to the Moon without proper control.

Just 30 seconds after retro-fire ignition at 09:34 UT on Sept. 22, 1966, communications ceased, and the lander crashed on to the surface of the Moon at 5 degrees 30 minutes north latitude and 12 degrees west longitude, just southeast of Copernicus crater.


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

Related News