February 20, 2015

50 years ago today: Ranger 8 crashes into the moon.



"The first image was taken at 9:34:32 UT at an altitude of 2510 km. Transmission of 7,137 photographs of good quality occurred over the final 23 minutes of flight. The final image taken before impact has a resolution of 1.5 meters. The spacecraft encountered the lunar surface in a direct hyperbolic trajectory, with incoming asymptotic direction at an angle of -13.6 degrees from the lunar equator... Impact velocity was slightly less than 2.68 km/s, approximately 6,000 mph."

25 comments:

MadisonMan said...

I have no memory of this, but I was only 4.5 at the time.

I wonder if Ranger 8 could still be found -- well, pieces of it -- at its impact site.

PB said...

Ouch! I'll bet that left a mark.

Laslo Spatula said...

Shoot the moon.

Scott said...

1965. Using mostly analog technology sprinkled with computers vastly dumber than your smartphone.

If scietists of this era were tasked with such a feat using the technology of that era, could they even do it?

Larry J said...

The first six Ranger missions were failures, either of the booster or of the Ranger itself. Rangers 7, 8, and 9 successfully returned the first close up images of the moon. A little over 4 years later, Apollo 11 landed men on the moon. Technology was developed quickly back then.

Larry J said...

Scott said...
1965. Using mostly analog technology sprinkled with computers vastly dumber than your smartphone.

If scietists of this era were tasked with such a feat using the technology of that era, could they even do it?


Perhaps, if they had the vast amount of funding NASA had back then (unofficial motto: Waste Anything But Time) and weren't hampered by all the EPA, OHSA, and other agency regulations enacted since then. The Apollo program was conceived in early 1960 in the Eisenhower administration. By 1969, the first men walked on the moon. Today, you'd still be trying to get the environmental impact statements approved in that amount of time. This is why we can't have nice things.

traditionalguy said...

That "moon shot" must have woken up the Moon god's worshipers. We had not offended them that much since 732AD .

Kevin said...


"Impact velocity was slightly less than 2.68 km/s, approximately 6,000 mph."

THAT'S gonna leave a mark...

Scott said...

Impact velocity was about 6,000 mph. That's 8,800 feet per second. By contrast, a typical large caliber hunting rifle bullet has a muzzle velocity of around 3,000 fps.

Laslo Spatula said...

Uranus joke.

I am Laslo.

madAsHell said...

I remember that the entire school would assemble, and we could watch these pictures on the television.

Splash downs in the ocean were pretty cool too.

EDH said...

"I probably shouldn't have given the wife the keys to the station wagon."

Women driver jokes were popular at the time, weren't they.

Anonymous said...

I'll never forgive Obama for destroying our space program.

Fernandinande said...

"Impact velocity was slightly less than 2.68 km/s, approximately 6,000 mph."

"A Florida driver's license is on the way." -- D. Barry

jimbino said...

Why do we citizens waste time recycling our garbage while the gummint pollutes the moon?

The Drill SGT said...

I grew up during the NASA heyday. The Astronauts were certifiable "Rock Stars". Deservedly so. Sitting on 3KT of explosive, those guys had big brass ones. The video below brings tears to my eyes today...


Apollo 13 Liftoff

Like the D-Day landings, some of our forefather's accomplishments are impossible today...

Peter said...

There was some concern at NASA that the USSR might send a cosmonaut around the moon before we got there, as this is a much less difficult task than a landing. The USSR had apparently scheduled the first manned (yes, NASA has PC'd that to "crewed") circumlunar mission to fly in 1967.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Soviet_manned_lunar_programs

SJ said...

From the perspective of the guy designing the rocket: it's easier to hit the Moon hard than to land softly.

I'm kind of amazed. Throughout most of human history, powered flight through the air was a dream. Powered flight above the atmosphere was not even dreamed of.

And both barriers were broken in the 20th Century.

Fritz said...

But did it help the Muslims "to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science ... and math and engineering." ?

damikesc said...

If scietists of this era were tasked with such a feat using the technology of that era, could they even do it?

The important question is: Would their clothing be acceptable to all possible grievance mongers?

rhhardin said...

The weaker the gravity, the more hyperbolic the trajectory. Only if it was launched from the moon would it be likely to be elliptical.

It's more accurate just to call it crashing into the moon. There's no need to take account of the gravity situation.

Archie Waugh said...

The impact crater of Ranger 8, approximately 13.5 m wide, was photographed by Lunar Orbiter 4 about 3 years later.

Scott said...

NASA has been gutted... Thankfully we have Elon Musk...

MadisonMan said...

@Archie: Thanks! That's cool info to know.

Rusty said...

MadisonMan said...
I have no memory of this, but I was only 4.5 at the time.

I wonder if Ranger 8 could still be found -- well, pieces of it -- at its impact site.


.........................................No.
The moon people removed it ages ago.