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Ranger 5 Launch
Ranger 5 Launch (click to enlarge)

Ranger 5 Launch
Date: 18 Oct 1962

Ranger 5 lifted off from launch Complex 12 into a leaden sky. The roar of the Atlas engines subsided as the vehicle soared out of sight. Inside the JPL command post, mission controllers learned that the rate beacon in the Atlas guidance system had malfunctioned. The rocket, nevertheless, continued on course, responding to backup commands radioed to it from the Cape computer. The same Atlas failure had caused the loss of Mariner 1, but the proper "hyphen" in the guidance equations saved the day for Ranger.

A few hours later a malfunction caused the spacecraft to switch to battery power. The batteries were drained within eight hours, leaving the spacecraft blind and deaf. It tumbled past the moon and ended up in a heliocentric orbit.

Credit: NASA

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