On July 28th, 1964, the Ranger 7 Lunar Lander/Impactor was launched from Cape Canaveral. Ranger 7 stood about 5 feet wide and nearly 12 feet tall and housed six cameras that were used to transmit high-resolution images of the Lunar surface back to earth before the spacecraft impacted the surface.
The Jet Propulsion Laboratory designed and built Ranger series of satellites helped gather images that could be used in preparation for the Apollo missions. Photographing the surface of the moon in great detail was critical for mission planners since they needed to find landing sites that were safe to land on.
After transmitting over 4,300 photographs of the lunar surface and completing its mission, Ranger 7 impacted the moon at 5,800 mph. It would be a few years before a soft landing, with Surveyor 1 becoming the first American probe to soft land on the moon. Check out episode 19 for more about Surveyor 1.
Pictured here, an image captured by Ranger 7 and a picture of what the spacecraft looked like.
Check out episode 75 of The Space Shot to hear about this mission and to learn more about aircraft safety, the second topic in this episode. Listen here. https://thespaceshot.fireside.fm/75
Picture credit- NASA.