Ranger 1 was a spacecraft whose primary mission was to test the
performance of those functions and parts necessary for carrying out
subsequent lunar and planetary missions using essentially the same
spacecraft design. A secondary objective was to study the nature of
particles and fields in interplanetary space.
Spacecraft and Subsystems
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 x 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 30 August 1961. Ranger 1 was partially
successful, much of the primary objective of flight testing the
equipment was accomplished but little scientific data was returned.
Total research, development, launch, and support costs for the Ranger
series of spacecraft (Rangers 1 through 9) was approximately $170