Ranger 9


Launch data:

Designation 01294 / 65023A
Launch date 21 Mar 1965 - 21:37 UT
Launch site CC, LC12
Launch vehicle Atlas-LV3 Agena-B (#204D/AA14)
Mission Lunar impact
Payload code Ranger-D 
Maximum distance
from Earth 400.000 km
All-burnt velocity 11,0 km/sec
Decay 24 Mar 1965 (Lunar impact)

Successful image return. Hit Moon 24 Mar 1965 at 14h 08m 20s (UT)
Impact: 12,9°S - 2,4°W

Spacecraft data:

Prime contractor  
Operator NASA
Mass at launch 366 kg
Dry Mass   kg
Dimensions 1,52 dia - 2,51 long
Basic shape hexagonal cylinder


The Ranger missions were launched from Cape Canaveral in a programme which cost $260 million. The purpose of the flights was to provide data about the lunar surface in preparation for the Apollo missions of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
The Lunar-Orbiter and Surveyor missions followed, but Ranger gave the first data in a way that ground-based telescopes never could. After the success of Ranger-9, the further missions of numbers 10 to 14 werecancelled. Ranger 1 and 2 were Block-1 spacecraft, while Rangers 3,4 and 5 were Block-II, and the final Rangers 6,7,8 and 9 were Block-III.
At the end of the Block-II flights a NASA inquiry found that the heat-sterilisation at 125°C for 24 hours caused severe electrical failures and the practice was stopped. This resulted in the failures of the soft-landing speres which together with their retro-rockets were called "TONTO" and weighed 136 kg. If they had soft-landed they would have measured moon-tremors, radiation and temperatures.

Mission details

Ref.: #1, #6(PMS031), #7, #8, #11(1998), #28(1966), #102(SL9) - update: 9.07.05 Home