Surveyor on beach
Surveyor on the beach in California
Status: Operational 1963. First Launch: 1963-11-27. Last Launch: 1968-01-07. Number: 13 . Gross mass: 269 kg (593 lb).
|Surveyor Block II American lunar lander. Study 1964. The Surveyor Block II spacecraft was imagined as an unmanned scout that could reconnoiter a specific lunar landing site for Apollo and assist the manned Lunar Module in making a precise touch down.|
|Surveyor-Model Instrumented mass model satellite, USA. Launched 1964 - 1966.|
|Surveyor-SD Instrumented dynamic simualtion payload satellite, USA. Launched 1965.|
|Surveyor Lunar Rover American lunar rover. Cancelled 1965. Follow-on Surveyor unmanned lunar landers were to deploy small nuclear-powered rovers (a carry-over from the cancelled Prospector spacecraft).|
|Surveyor Orbiter American lunar orbiter. Study 1965. NASA originally planned to have a version of the Surveyor spacecraft conduct detailed orbital photographic reconnaissance of the moon in preparation for the Apollo manned landings.|
Surveyor 3 as photographed by the crew of Apollo 12
Surveyor 3 / Apollo 12 Artists Concept
A lonely Surveyor 3 on Lunar Surface; Apollo 12 LM in the distance.
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Credit: Manufacturer Image
Surveyor 3 with astronaut; Apollo 12 Lunar Module in the background
After reviewing proposals by 37 companies, NASA awarded contracts to the Hughes Aircraft Company, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, North American Aviation, Inc., and Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., for preliminary competitive design studies of an instrumented soft-landing lunar spacecraft, the Surveyor. The companies were scheduled to submit their reports in December.
After evaluating preliminary design studies, NASA selected the Hughes Aircraft Company to build seven Surveyor spacecraft. This 750-pound, three-legged, unmanned spacecraft would carry 200 pounds of instruments, including zoom television cameras, a drill to sample the lunar soil, chemical analysis equipment, and a seismometer. The first Surveyor was scheduled to be launched in 1963.
Joseph F. Shea, NASA Deputy Director of Manned Space Flight (Systems) , told an American Rocket Society meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, that the first American astronauts to land on the moon would come down in an area within ten degrees on either side of the lunar equator and between longitudes 270 and 260 degrees. Shea said that the actual site would be chosen for its apparent scientific potential and that the Ranger and Surveyor programs would provide badly needed information on the lunar surface. Maps on the scale of two fifths of a mile to the inch would be required, based on photographs which would show lunar features down to five or six feet in size. The smallest objects on the lunar surface yet identified by telescope were about the size of a football field.
NASA announced that, in the future, unmanned lunar landing spacecraft e.g., Rangers and Surveyors) will be assembled in "clean rooms" and treated with germ-killing substances to reduce the number of microbes on exposed surfaces. These sterilization procedures, less stringent than earlier methods, were intended to prevent contamination of the lunar surface and, at the same time, avoid damage to sensitive electronic components. Heat sterilization was suspected as one of the reasons for the failure of Ranger spacecraft.
Launched from Cape Canaveral, Atlas/Centaur (AC-2) was the first successful use of the high-energy liquid hydrogen/ liquid oxygen Centaur upper stage vehicle developed for NASA by General Dynamics. The spent Centaur stage entered orbit. Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle put dummy payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit. First successful Centaur (liquid hydrogen-fueled) flight.
Verne C. Fryklund of NASA's Manned Space Sciences Division advised Bellcomm of the procedure for determining Apollo landing sites on the moon. The Manned Space Sciences chief outlined an elimination for the site selection process. For the first step, extant selenographic material would be used to pick targets of interest for Lunar Orbiter spacecraft photography. After study of the Lunar Orbiter photography, a narrower choice of targets then became the object of Surveyor spacecraft lunar missions, with final choice of potential landing sites to be made after the Surveyor program.
The selection criteria at all stages were determined by lunar surface requirements prepared by OMSF. Fryklund emphasized that a landing at the least hazardous spot, rather than in the area with the most scientific interest, was the chief aim of the site selection process.
Jet Propulsion Laboratory proposed a meeting on October 29 between representatives of NASA Headquarters, Bellcomm, MSC, MIT, and JPL to present the requirements and status of projects underway as they related to the landing aid problem. The Surveyor Block II study effort was concentrating on determining needs of obtaining data on the lunar surface and environment for Apollo. Additional Details: here....
The Atomic Energy Commission evaluated proposals by Radio Corporation of America and General Electric (GE) for an isotope generator for the Surveyor lunar roving vehicle, and assigned follow-on work to the latter firm. GE's concept, it was felt, was compatible with the possible requirement that the fuel source might have to be carried separately aboard the LEM. MSC's Propulsion and Power Division reported that the generator's "prospects . . . look(ed) very promising."
NASA Headquarters established an Ad Hoc Surveyor Orbiter Utilization Committee and MSC was requested to submit names of two proposed members. It was suggested that the nominees be familiar with the mission planning and constraints of the Apollo program. The first meeting was planned for late July.
On July 29, MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth submitted the names of William A. Lee and William E. Stoney, Jr. He noted that the same two individuals were being nominated to serve as MSC members on the Apollo Site Selection Board. Gilruth expressed a desire that the meetings of the two groups could be coordinated to the extent that travel would be minimized.
Several lunar surface vehicles received national attention:
The first operational Atlas/Centaur (AC-10) carried the NASA Surveyor I spacecraft to the moon in a direct ascent lunar transfer trajectory. This was the first in a series of seven Surveyors designed to develop soft-landing technology and to provide basic scientific and engineering data in support of Project Apollo. On 2 June, Surveyor I became the first U.S. spacecraft to soft-land on the moon and transmit television pictures Surveyor 1 soft landed on the moon in the Ocean of Storms and began transmitting the first of more than 11,150 clear, detailed television pictures to Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Facility, Goldstone, Calif. The landing sequence began 3,200 kilometers above the moon with the spacecraft traveling at a speed of 9,700 kilometers per hour. The spacecraft was successfully slowed to 5.6 kilometers per hour by the time it reached 4-meter altitude and then free-fell to the surface at 13 kilometers per hour. The landing was so precise that the three footpads touched the surface within 19 milliseconds of each other, and it confirmed that the lunar surface could support the LM. It was the first U.S. attempt to soft land on the moon.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth requested of Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William H. Pickering that JPL fire the Surveyor spacecraft's vernier engine after the Surveyor landed on moon, to give insight into how much erosion could be expected from an LM landing. The LM descent engine was to operate until it was about one nozzle diameter from landing on the lunar surface; after the Surveyor landed, its engine would be about the same distance from the surface. Gilruth told Pickering that LaRC was testing a reaction control engine to establish surface shear pressure forces, surface pressures, and back pressure sources, and offered JPL that data when obtained.
Soft lunar landing attempt failed. Surveyor II was launched from Cape Kennedy at 8:32 a.m. EDT. The Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle placed the spacecraft on a nearly perfect lunar intercept trajectory that would have missed the aim point by about 130 kilometers. Following injection, the spacecraft successfully accomplished all required sequences up to the midcourse thrust phase. This phase was not successful because of the failure of one of the three vernier engines to ignite, causing eventual loss of the mission. Contact with the spacecraft was lost at 5:35 a.m. EDT, September 22, and impact on the lunar surface was predicted at 11:18 p.m. on that day.
The Apollo Site Selection Board meeting at NASA Hq. March 29 heard MSC presentations on lunar landing site selection constraints, results of the Orbiter II screening, and reviews of the tasks for site analysis. MSC made recommendations for specific sites on which to concentrate during the next four months and recommended that the landing sites for the first lunar landing mission be selected by August 1. The Board accepted the recommendations. A Surveyor and Orbiter meeting the following day considered the targeting of the Surveyor C mission and the Lunar Orbiter V mission. MSC representatives at the two meetings were John Eggleston and Owen E. Maynard.
MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth told George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, that MSC desired that the vernier engine be fired after the touchdown of Surveyor IV on the lunar surface. He reminded Mueller that this experiment was supposed to have been performed on Surveyor III and was of prime importance to Apollo. The fact that Surveyor III landed with the vernier engine firing and did not experience any significant erosion had also been of importance to the Apollo program. He requested that Surveyor IV be targeted for the Apollo landing site in the Sinus Medii area. As a lower priority experiment, Gilruth said MSC would like to get a limited amount of photography on the first lunar day, which would allow a limited assessment of viewing conditions in earthshine.
Atlas 94D was the 91st, and last, D series missile to be launched from Vandenberg AFB since 12D was launched on 9 September 1959. Soft landed on lunar Moon; photographed lunar surface; sampled lunar soil; used propulsion system to briefly lift off of lunar surface.
NASA issued a tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program:
|Flight||Launch Plans||Tentative Landing Area|
|Apollo 12||November 1969||Oceanus Procellarum lunar lowlands|
|Apollo 13||March 1970||Fra Mauro highlands|
|Apollo 14||July 1970||Crater Censorinus highlands|
|Apollo 15||November 1970||Littrow volcanic area|
|Apollo 16||April 1971||Crater Tycho (Surveyor VII impact area)|
|Apollo 17||September 1971||Marius Hills volcanic domes|
|Apollo 18||February 1972||Schroter's Valley, riverlike channel-ways|
|Apollo 19||July 1972||Hyginus Rille region-Linear Rille, crater area|
|Apollo 20||December 1972||Crater Copernicus, large crater impact area|
At the request of the Apollo 12 crew, the internal primary guidance and navigational control system targeting for descent was being changed so that the automatic guidance would land LM-6 at Surveyor III rather than at a point offset 305 meters east and 153 meters north as originally planned.