National Geographic : 1962 Oct
Checkout for space: Jet Propulsion Laboratory men in surg gowns prepare Ranger 4 for its voyage. Shiny aluminized pla shields the television camera. Ranger is kept dust-free and the sterilized lest earth-born micro-organisms infect the moon. The Rangers will be followed, if all goes couples well, by Surveyors, which will land softly, and fire bite into the moon's surface, chew it up, ana- Ranger. lyze it, and report. Surveyors, due to start might f flying in 1964, will also take pictures in color flections and stereo (pages 570-71). Other Surveyors finding could orbit the moon, search photographically Now for possible landing places, and give us our of its el first detailed map of the surface. each six Regardless of the varying experiments cells. TI each will conduct, all U. S. moon probes will sun's en follow approximately the same flight plan. enough 566 Their carefully plotted gyra tions in space will be similar to those of Ranger 5, pictured on pages 560-61. If Ranger 5 does its job, and if by some miracle you could fly with it, here is what you would see. Ranger 5's Weird Journey After the familiar count down, the ship thunders through, and out of, the at mosphere. Five minutes later, already in space, the rocket comes apart. First to go is the nose cone that insulated the spacecraft from the friction heat of launching and sealed it from contamination. Ranger was sterilized before launching to keep earthly life, even bacte ria, from reaching the moon and confusing later study. The Atlas (the same booster that pushed Astronauts Glenn and Carpenter into orbit) falls away. Now the ship consists only of the Agena B rocket and Ranger itself. It is 100 miles above earth, and 490 miles downrange. Slowly, it arcs over to par allel earth's curve. It coasts a moment; then the Agena fires, pushing itself and Rang NASA er into earth orbit. After coast ical ing some 25 minutes to reach stic the best take-off point for the nis moon, Agena flames again, driving into a lunar course at 24,500 miles an hour. Agena has a final job: It un from the spacecraft, turns around, s a retrorocket to slow itself and trail If this maneuver were omitted, Agena ollow Ranger into the moon, and re from it could confuse Ranger's light orientation devices. Ranger goes to work. On command ectronic brain, it unfolds two panels, feet long and faced with 4,340 solar hey are capable of producing from the lergy 148 to 155 watts of electricity to light a large lamp bulb on earth.