The Ranger 9 Mission
Every week, Project Talent participants contact us and share their thoughts on the many ways the world has changed in the last fifty years. The development of the space program and the ability to explore our universe are frequently mentioned.
In March of 1965, NASA launched Ranger 9, the last in a series of probes to the moon. It would never return from its one-way mission, but it would provide Americans with their first real glimpse of space in a ground-breaking live television broadcast. The age of space travel was beginning and the entire country was invited to watch. The Ranger series was designed to transmit photographs and footage of the surface of the moon while on a collision course, providing increasingly detailed images until the final plunge and impact. Although the first six attempts failed for a variety of reasons, Rangers 7 and 8 were both successful. The images from these missions helped NASA researchers better understand the difficulties they faced in trying to find a smooth area for a spacecraft to land safely. Ranger 9 would build on this knowledge while also sharing the exciting experience of discovery with the public.
On March 24th, millions of Americans tuned in for Ranger 9’s final moments. The probe was equipped with six types of television cameras and transmitted a live fifteen-minute broadcast as it hurtled toward the surface of the moon. In addition to the video footage, it was also able to transmit almost 6,000 quality photographs before it crashed, traveling at more than 6,000 miles per hour when it hit the surface. With the information gathered from the successful Ranger missions, NASA was able to begin planning a manned mission to the moon.
We want to hear from you! Did you watch the live broadcast of the Ranger 9 mission? Do you remember how you felt during this period, when the world was engaged in a race for the stars? What impact, if any, do you think putting people on the moon has had on America?