March 24, 1965: Ranger Broadcasts From Moon
On this day in 1965 the Spacecraft Ranger 9, equipped to show signals suitable for showing on television, brings images of the Moon into ordinary homes before crash landing.
Only 4 years earlier Kennedy delivered his famous message to congress setting the goal of “landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth” by the end of the decade. It would be another 4 years before Apollo 11 lands on the Moon and Neil Armstrong steps onto the moon with his famous declaration, “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind”
The Ranger 9 Lunar probe was designed to achieve lunar impact and transmit high resolution photos of the lunar surface to earth. The spacecraft carried six television cameras arranged in two separate chains. There were no other experiments carried on the spacecraft.
After Ranger reached the Moon it executed a maneuver to orientate the craft so the cameras were more in line to improve the resolution of the pictures. The spacecraft’s performance was excellent as real time television coverage was broadcast live and Ranger 9 made impact at 2.67 km/s – that’s about 5,972 miles per hour.
Kennedy Moon Speech (from Kennedy Library): http://www.time.com/time/video/player/0,32068,959452474001_0,00.html