This Day in History: Ranger 8 Lunar Probe Launches (February 17th, 1965)

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

Years before Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin took a stroll in the Sea of Tranquility, an unmanned probe made a planned crash landing there, and it was launched on this day in history.

That unmanned probe was named Ranger 8, part of a series of NASA probes throughout the 1960s. The first few Ranger probes had limited success, but Ranger 8 would be a different story.

Ranger 8 was launched into space on February 17th, 1965 aboard an Atlas-Agena rocket. The probe was outfitted with an array of television cameras.

The spacecraft would arrive at the moon three days later. It began a planned descent to the lunar surface, taking photographs all the while. In total, over seven thousand photographs were taken before the probe impacted in the Sea of Tranquility.

There would be one more probe in the Ranger series that was launched later in 1965.

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