Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Old-School NASA Ground Ops Are Highlight of Ranger 7 Film

For #ThrowbackThursday: Fifty years ago today, NASA got its first close pictures of the moon with its Ranger 7 spacecraft after several failed attempts.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory released the above 1964 film it produced on Ranger 7, and if anything, it’s an interesting look at old-school ground operations.

At one point, the narrator says: “The pictures will be recorded here at Goldstone on both magnetic tape and film. Polaroids will tell the engineers whether or not the TV system is working.”

This Wired story from a couple years ago has a breakdown of what went wrong with the six Ranger spacecrafts that were launched before Ranger 7. Problems included getting stranded in low-Earth orbit and later burning up, losing power, or cameras just not turning on,  according to Wired. The camera problem with the Ranger 6 spacecraft prompted a Congressional investigation, according to Wired and Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine.

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