Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Ranger 1 was a spacecraft in the Ranger program whose primary mission was to test the performance of those functions and parts necessary for carrying out subsequent lunar and planetary missions. A secondary objective was to study the nature of particles and fields in interplanetary space.
The spacecraft was of the Ranger Block 1 design and consisted of a hexagonal base 1.5 m across upon which was mounted a cone-shaped 4 m high tower of aluminum struts and braces. Two solar panel wings measuring 5.2 m from tip to tip extended from the base. A high-gain directional dish antenna was attached to the bottom of the base. Spacecraft experiments and other equipment were mounted on the base and tower. Instruments aboard the spacecraft included a Lyman-alpha telescope, a rubidium-vapor magnetometer, electrostatic analyzers, medium-energy range particle detectors, two triple coincidence telescopes, a cosmic-ray integrating ionization chamber, cosmic dust detectors, and solar X-ray scintillation counters.
The communications system included the high gain antenna and an omni-directional medium gain antenna and two transmitters, one at 960.1 MHz with 0.25 W power output and the other at 960.05 MHz with 3 W power output. Power was to be furnished by 8680 solar cells on the two panels, a 57 kg silver-zinc battery, and smaller batteries on some of the experiments. Attitude control was provided by a solid-state timing controller, Sun and Earth sensors, and pitch and roll jets. The temperature was controlled passively by gold plating, white paint, and polished aluminum surfaces.
The Ranger 1 spacecraft was designed to go into an Earth parking orbit and then into a 60,000 by 1,100,000 km Earth orbit to test systems and strategies for future lunar missions. Ranger 1 was launched into the Earth parking orbit as planned, but the Agena B failed to restart to put it into the higher trajectory, so when Ranger 1 separated from the Agena stage it went into a low Earth orbit and began tumbling. The satellite re-entered Earth's atmosphere on August 30, 1961. Ranger 1 was partially successful, much of the primary objective of flight testing the equipment was accomplished but little scientific data was returned.
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