Encyclopedia Astronautica
Ranger 1-2



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Ranger 1, 2
Credit: NASA
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Ranger A
Ranger A in assembly at JPL, Pasadena
American lunar impact probe. 2 launches, 1961.08.23 (Ranger 1) to 1961.11.18 (Ranger 2).

The primary mission of the early Ranger flight models was to test the performance of those functions and parts that were necessary for carrying out later lunar (Ranger) and planetary (Mariner) missions using the same spacecraft bus. A secondary objective was to study the nature of particles and fields in interplanetary space.

The spacecraft consisted of a hexagonal base upon which were mounted the spacecraft experiments, two solar panels, and high-and low-gain antennas. Instruments aboard the spacecraft included a Lyman-alpha telescope, a rubidium-vapor magnetometer, electrostatic analyzers, medium-energy-range particle detectors, two triple coincidence telescopes, a cosmic-ray integrating ionization chamber, cosmic dust detectors, and scintillation counters. Two 960-mhz transmitters were aboard the spacecraft, one with 0.25 W power output and the other with 3 W power output.

Gross mass: 305 kg (672 lb).
First Launch: 1961.08.23.
Last Launch: 1961.11.18.
Number: 2 .

More... - Chronology...


Associated Countries
See also
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...

Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Atlas Agena B American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas D with improved, enlarged Agena upper stage. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

Associated Programs
  • Ranger Ranger was originally to be a program of five unmanned lunar crasher spacecraft, intended to quickly obtain information on the lunar surface. The scientific objective would be to acquire and transmit a number of images of the lunar surface prior to impact, and to obtain data from a survivable package incorporating a lunar seismometer. The resulting spacecraft was much too ambitious for its period. After five consecutive failures, a simpler, picture-return-only spacecraft made three successful flights, returning the first closeup pictures of the lunar surface years behind schedule. More...

Bibliography
  • McDowell, Jonathan, Jonathan's Space Home Page (launch records), Harvard University, 1997-present. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • JPL Mission and Spacecraft Library, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, 1997. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Ertel , Ivan D; Morse , Mary Louise; et al, The Apollo Spacecraft Chronology Vol I - IV NASA SP-4009, NASA, 1966-1974. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Emme, Eugene M, Aeronautical and Astronautical Events of 1961 Report of NASA to the Committee on Science and Astronautics US House of Representatives 87th Cong 2d Sess, NASA, 1962. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • Lockheed Martin Coporation, Atlas Family Fact Sheets, September 1998.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • National Space Science Center Planetary Page, As of 19 February 1999.. Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, RA-1 Spacecraft Flight Performance Interim Report, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, A Suggestion for Extension of the NASA Ranger Project in Support of Manned Space Flight, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, A Lunar Seismometer Capsule Subsystem For Ranger Bimonthly Technical Progress Report, Jun. 19 - Aug. 18, 1962, Web Address when accessed: here.
  • NASA Report, Ranger A3, A4, And A5 - Spacecraft Design Specification, Web Address when accessed: here.

Associated Launch Sites
  • Cape Canaveral America's largest launch center, used for all manned launches. Today only six of the 40 launch complexes built here remain in use. Located at or near Cape Canaveral are the Kennedy Space Center on Merritt Island, used by NASA for Saturn V and Space Shuttle launches; Patrick AFB on Cape Canaveral itself, operated the US Department of Defense and handling most other launches; the commercial Spaceport Florida; the air-launched launch vehicle and missile Drop Zone off Mayport, Florida, located at 29.00 N 79.00 W, and an offshore submarine-launched ballistic missile launch area. All of these take advantage of the extensive down-range tracking facilities that once extended from the Cape, through the Caribbean, South Atlantic, and to South Africa and the Indian Ocean. More...
  • Cape Canaveral LC12 Atlas launch complex. The complex was built for the Atlas ballistic missile program. Launch sites 11 to 14 were accepted between August 1957 and mid-April 1958. Complex 12 supported its first Atlas launch on 10 January 1958, and it supported nine Ranger missions and four Mariner missions between 12 August 1961 and 15 June 1967. Complexes 11, 12 and 14 were deactivated in 1967, and Complex 13 was deactivated in April 1978. More...

Ranger 1-2 Chronology


1961 May 29 - . LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: SLV-3 Agena B.
  • Ranger booster erected. - . Nation: USA. Program: Ranger. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Ranger 1-2. Summary: Atlas booster 111-D, to be used for Ranger I, was erected on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral..

1961 July 12 - .
  • First large space simulator in the United States - . Nation: USA. Program: Ranger. Spacecraft: Ranger 1-2. Jet Propulsion Laboratory announced that construction was under way on the first large space simulator in the United States capable of testing full-scale spacecraft of the Ranger and Mariner classes. Three primary space effects could be simulated: solar radiation, cold space heat sink, and a high vacuum equivalent to about one part in a billion of the atmospheric pressure at sea level.

1961 August 23 - . 10:04 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC12. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 111D (AA1) / Agena B 6001 (AA1). FAILURE: Agena B second stage failure.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Ranger 1 - . Payload: NASA P-32 (RA-1). Mass: 306 kg (674 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Ranger. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Ranger 1-2. Decay Date: 1961-08-30 . USAF Sat Cat: 173 . COSPAR: 1961-Phi-1. Apogee: 446 km (277 mi). Perigee: 179 km (111 mi). Inclination: 32.9000 deg. Period: 90.60 min. Lunar probe; failed to leave Earth orbit. Ranger 1, a test version of the spacecraft which would attempt an unmanned crash landing on the moon, was launched from the Atlantic Missile Range by an Atlas-Agena B booster. The 306 kg spacecraft did not attain the scheduled extremely elongated orbit because of the misfiring of the Agena B rocket. Although the spacecraft systems were tested successfully, only part of the eight project experiments could be carried out. Ranger 1 reentered on August 29 after 111 orbits. Ranger 1's primary mission was to test the performance of those functions and parts that are necessary for carrying out subsequent lunar and planetary missions using essentially the same spacecraft design.

1961 November 18 - . 08:12 GMT - . Launch Site: Cape Canaveral. Launch Complex: Cape Canaveral LC12. LV Family: Atlas. Launch Vehicle: Atlas Agena B. LV Configuration: Atlas Agena B 117D (AA2) / Agena B 6002 (AA2). FAILURE: Agena B Second Stage failed to restart.. Failed Stage: 2.
  • Ranger 2 - . Payload: NASA P-33 (RA-2). Mass: 304 kg (670 lb). Nation: USA. Agency: NASA. Program: Ranger. Class: Moon. Type: Lunar probe. Spacecraft: Ranger 1-2. Decay Date: 1961-11-20 . USAF Sat Cat: 206 . COSPAR: 1961-A-Theta-1. Apogee: 242 km (150 mi). Perigee: 150 km (90 mi). Inclination: 33.3000 deg. Period: 88.30 min. This was a flight test of the Ranger spacecraft system designed for future lunar and interplanetary missions. The spacecraft was launched into a low earth parking orbit, but an inoperative roll gyro prevented Agena restart resulting in Ranger 2 being stranded in low earth orbit. The orbit decayed and the spacecraft reentered Earth's atmosphere on 20 November 1961.

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