National Geographic : 1962 Oct
dom of this approach was dramatically shown by the first two craft the United States tried to land on the moon. In each case, things went wrong that would have jeopardized any crew. The first American moon machines are Rangers. Someday they will seem as crude as Columbus's Santa Maria today. But to our eyes they are amazing, and they do amazing things. If the rockets and all the Ranger systems work, Ranger will see; it will feel; it will count; it will remember. It will turn and twist in space-by command or on its own initiative. Ranger will capture sunlight, turn it into electricity, then into radio waves. It will take pictures and relay them to earth. (Like hu man photographers, Ranger must be sure to remove its lens cap.) It will tell us much about what the moon is made of. This talented spacecraft is an 81/4-foot-high piece of hand made hardware, divided into two major parts. Ranger's larger section, which its designers call the "basic bus," is a hexagon of gold-plated electronic boxes with two winglike solar panels and two antennas. Its job is to send TV pictures and informa tion back to earth. Above these rests the second section, the lunar capsule, a 241/2-inch ball that will alight on the moon. Also part of Ranger are two small rockets. One will give Ranger its final guidance toward the moon; the other will slow (Continued on page 563) The Author: Staff writer Frank Sartwell, a former assistant editor of National Geographic School Bulletins, traveled 9,000 earthbound miles to gather the story of man's 238,000-mile reach for the moon. The Artist: Pierre Mion, of Chevy Chase, Md., relaxes from paint ing by racing sports cars; he was U. S. Class CP champion in 1961. 558 Moonbound Missile Blasts From the Earth Trailing a frothy wake, a Ranger lunar probe heads toward the moon from Cape Canaveral on April 23, 1962. The probe, fourth in the Rang er series, bore a television cam era and seismic instruments. A triumph in rocketry, it struck the far side of the moon but sent back no pictures or scien tific data because of a malfunc tion in its electronic brain. This fall a twin machine, Ranger 5, will attempt the same experi ments. On the following pages, paintings produced in close con sultation with NASA experts depict the voyage. On a plume of fire, icy Atlas lifts from its pad. Intense cold of liquid oxygen coats its metal skin with frost. Clouds of steam billow as water is sprayed on the blast deflector to prevent its melting. Ranger 4 is mounted above the second-stage Agena B, atop the Atlas.