ISBN 13 9781894959650
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Surveyor: Lunar Exploration Program
The Nasa Mission Reports
by Robert Godwin
The beginning of 1966 heralded the birth of the era of direct planetary exploration. Once again the Russians had upped the stakes by placing the first robotic spacecraft, Luna IX on another world.
At this time the United States of America’s National Air and Space Administration was engaged in the most ambitious scientific project in human history; to place a man on the moon.
In order to safely perform this task some very fundamental questions needed to be answered in advance of the journey.
Could a spacecraft safely land on the Moon and not be swallowed up by lunar dust? Could the extreme temperatures and surface radiation disable the hardware? Could an accurate trajectory be calculated? Were there places that were flat enough and debris-free to allow a safe landing?
These and many other important questions would be answered between 1966 and 1968 by five robotic spacecraft, built by the Hughes Aircraft Corporation, and named Surveyor.
This short, but critically important program consumed $426 million of NASA’s budget in just two years but it not only proved the worthiness of new hardware, such as the hydrogen-propelled Centaur booster stage, but also that of the robust and ingenious Surveyor probes.
Mankind sent explorers to six different lunar locations but the Surveyors visited five entirely different landing sites, and returned over 87,000 pictures from the lunar surface. This book contains previously unavailable documentation from this important program and is accompanied by a further 1800 pages of material on the accompanying CDROM.