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astronautix.com Surveyor

Surveyor on beach
Surveyor on beach - Surveyor on the beach in California

Credit: NASA. 19,527 bytes. 318 x 240 pixels.



Class: Planetary. Type: Lunar. Nation: USA. Agency: NASA.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Surveyor series soft-landed on the moon, provided images of the lunar surface, and tested the characteristics of the lunar soi.


Specification

Total Mass: 269 kg.


Surveyor Chronology


01 May 1959 Unmanned Lunar Soft Landing Vehicle Program: Apollo. Launch Vehicle: Saturn I.

The Army Ordnance Missile Command submitted to NASA a report entitled "Preliminary Study of an Unmanned Lunar Soft Landing Vehicle," recommending the use of the Saturn booster.


09 July 1960 NASA selects companies for competitive design studies of Surveyor Program: Surveyor.

After reviewing proposals by 37 companies, NASA awarded contracts to the Hughes Aircraft Company, McDonnell Aircraft Corporation, North American Aviation, Inc., and Space Technology Laboratories, Inc., for preliminary competitive design studies of an instrumented soft-landing lunar spacecraft, the Surveyor. The companies were scheduled to submit their reports in December.


11 July 1960 Surveyor project starts.

NASA selected Hughes, North American, Space Technology Laboratory, and McDonnell to study designs for the first lunar soft-landing spacecraft.


19 January 1961 Hughes to build Surveyor spacecraft Program: Surveyor.

After evaluating preliminary design studies, NASA selected the Hughes Aircraft Company to build seven Surveyor spacecraft. This 750-pound, three-legged, unmanned spacecraft would carry 200 pounds of instruments, including zoom television cameras, a drill to sample the lunar soil, chemical analysis equipment, and a seismometer. The first Surveyor was scheduled to be launched in 1963.


17 July 1962 Apollo landing zone defined Program: Apollo.

Joseph F. Shea, NASA Deputy Director of Manned Space Flight (Systems) , told an American Rocket Society meeting in Cleveland, Ohio, that the first American astronauts to land on the moon would come down in an area within ten degrees on either side of the lunar equator and between longitudes 270 and 260 degrees. Shea said that the actual site would be chosen for its apparent scientific potential and that the Ranger and Surveyor programs would provide badly needed information on the lunar surface. Maps on the scale of two fifths of a mile to the inch would be required, based on photographs which would show lunar features down to five or six feet in size. The smallest objects on the lunar surface yet identified by telescope were about the size of a football field.


12 September 1963 Unmanned lunar landing spacecraft to be sterilized Program: Apollo.

NASA announced that, in the future, unmanned lunar landing spacecraft e.g., Rangers and Surveyors) will be assembled in "clean rooms" and treated with germ-killing substances to reduce the number of microbes on exposed surfaces. These sterilization procedures, less stringent than earlier methods, were intended to prevent contamination of the lunar surface and, at the same time, avoid damage to sensitive electronic components. Heat sterilization was suspected as one of the reasons for the failure of Ranger spacecraft.



Surveyor 3Surveyor 3 - Surveyor 3 as photographed by the crew of Apollo 12

Credit: NASA. 55,682 bytes. 507 x 388 pixels.


27 November 1963 Atlas Centaur 2 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 4,620 kg. Perigee: 469 km. Apogee: 1,478 km. Inclination: 30.4 deg.

Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle put payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit


30 November 1963 Procedure for determining Apollo landing sites Program: Apollo.

Verne C. Fryklund of NASA's Manned Space Sciences Division advised Bellcomm of the procedure for determining Apollo landing sites on the moon. The Manned Space Sciences chief outlined an elimination for the site selection process. For the first step, extant selenographic material would be used to pick targets of interest for Lunar Orbiter spacecraft photography. After study of the Lunar Orbiter photography, a narrower choice of targets then became the object of Surveyor spacecraft lunar missions, with final choice of potential landing sites to be made after the Surveyor program.

The selection criteria at all stages were determined by lunar surface requirements prepared by OMSF. Fryklund emphasized that a landing at the least hazardous spot, rather than in the area with the most scientific interest, was the chief aim of the site selection process.


11 December 1964 Atlas Centaur 4 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 2,944 kg. Perigee: 165 km. Apogee: 178 km. Inclination: 30.7 deg.

Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle put dummy Surveyor payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit


02 March 1965 Centaur AC-5 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. FAILURE: Failure.
11 August 1965 Surveyor; Atlas Centaur 6 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 950 kg.


Apollo 12Apollo 12 - Surveyor 3 / Apollo 12 Artists Concept

Credit: NASA. 44,345 bytes. 553 x 387 pixels.


Surveyor model launched dummy Surveyor payload into a barycentric / translunar orbit.
08 April 1966 Surveyor Model Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. FAILURE: Centaur propellant leak. Mass: 784 kg. Perigee: 182 km. Apogee: 336 km. Inclination: 30.7 deg.

Launch vehicle test. Payload was dummy Surveyor spacecraft.


30 May 1966 Surveyor 1 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 269 kg.

Surveyor 1 soft landed on the moon in the Ocean of Storms and began transmitting the first of more than 11,150 clear, detailed television pictures to Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Deep Space Facility, Goldstone, Calif. The landing sequence began 3,200 kilometers above the moon with the spacecraft traveling at a speed of 9,700 kilometers per hour. The spacecraft was successfully slowed to 5.6 kilometers per hour by the time it reached 4-meter altitude and then free-fell to the surface at 13 kilometers per hour. The landing was so precise that the three footpads touched the surface within 19 milliseconds of each other, and it confirmed that the lunar surface could support the LM. It was the first U.S. attempt to soft land on the moon.


22 August 1966 Surveyor vernier engine to be fired after landing Program: Apollo.

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth requested of Jet Propulsion Laboratory Director William H. Pickering that JPL fire the Surveyor spacecraft's vernier engine after the Surveyor landed on moon, to give insight into how much erosion could be expected from an LM landing. The LM descent engine was to operate until it was about one nozzle diameter from landing on the lunar surface; after the Surveyor landed, its engine would be about the same distance from the surface. Gilruth told Pickering that LaRC was testing a reaction control engine to establish surface shear pressure forces, surface pressures, and back pressure sources, and offered JPL that data when obtained.



Apollo 12Apollo 12 - A lonely Surveyor 3 on Lunar Surface; Apollo 12 LM in the distance.

Credit: NASA. 42,381 bytes. 606 x 225 pixels.


20 September 1966 Surveyor 2 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 292 kg.

Soft lunar landing attempt failed. Surveyor II was launched from Cape Kennedy at 8:32 a.m. EDT. The Atlas-Centaur launch vehicle placed the spacecraft on a nearly perfect lunar intercept trajectory that would have missed the aim point by about 130 kilometers. Following injection, the spacecraft successfully accomplished all required sequences up to the midcourse thrust phase. This phase was not successful because of the failure of one of the three vernier engines to ignite, causing eventual loss of the mission. Contact with the spacecraft was lost at 5:35 a.m. EDT, September 22, and impact on the lunar surface was predicted at 11:18 p.m. on that day.


25 October 1966 Surveyor Model; Atlas Centaur 9 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 951 kg. Perigee: 166 km. Apogee: 406,200 km. Inclination: 29.6 deg.

Launch vehicle test. Launch vehicle put Surveyor spacecraft payload into geosynchronous transfer orbit


29 March 1967 Apollo Site Selection Board Program: Apollo.

The Apollo Site Selection Board meeting at NASA Hq. March 29 heard MSC presentations on lunar landing site selection constraints, results of the Orbiter II screening, and reviews of the tasks for site analysis. MSC made recommendations for specific sites on which to concentrate during the next four months and recommended that the landing sites for the first lunar landing mission be selected by August 1. The Board accepted the recommendations. A Surveyor and Orbiter meeting the following day considered the targeting of the Surveyor C mission and the Lunar Orbiter V mission. MSC representatives at the two meetings were John Eggleston and Owen E. Maynard.


17 April 1967 Surveyor 3 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 283 kg.


Apollo 12Apollo 12 - Surveyor 3 with astronaut; Apollo 12 Lunar Module in the background

Credit: NASA. 36,418 bytes. 468 x 385 pixels.


Soft landed on Moon; perrformed soil sample tests and imaged lunar surface.
15 June 1967 Surveyor 4 vernier engine to be fired after touchdown Program: Apollo.

MSC Director Robert R. Gilruth told George E. Mueller, NASA OMSF, that MSC desired that the vernier engine be fired after the touchdown of Surveyor IV on the lunar surface. He reminded Mueller that this experiment was supposed to have been performed on Surveyor III and was of prime importance to Apollo. The fact that Surveyor III landed with the vernier engine firing and did not experience any significant erosion had also been of importance to the Apollo program. He requested that Surveyor IV be targeted for the Apollo landing site in the Sinus Medii area. As a lower priority experiment, Gilruth said MSC would like to get a limited amount of photography on the first lunar day, which would allow a limited assessment of viewing conditions in earthshine.


14 July 1967 Surveyor 4 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur LV-3C. Mass: 283 kg.

Soft lunar landing attempt failed.


08 September 1967 Surveyor 5 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. Mass: 279 kg.

Soft lunar landing; returned 19,000 photos, soil data.


07 November 1967 Surveyor 6 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. Mass: 280 kg.

Soft landed on lunar Moon; photographed lunar surface; sampled lunar soil; used propulsion system to briefly lift off of lunar surface.


07 January 1968 Surveyor 7 Launch Site: Cape Canaveral . Launch Vehicle: Atlas Centaur SLV-3C. Mass: 1,036 kg.

Soft landed on lunar Moon; photographed lunar surface; sampled lunar soil.


03 June 1969 Proposed landing sites for Apollo 12 Program: Apollo.

In a report to the ASPO Manager, the Chief of MSC's Systems Engineering Division described Apollo Site Selection Board (ASSB) action on proposed landing sites for the Apollo 12 mission. The MSC recommendation was to land at either the Surveyor III or Surveyor I site if Apollo 11 landed in either Apollo site 2 or site 3. Earlier, on January 10, Benjamin Milwitzky, NASA Hq., had said, "There appears to be much merit in landing close to one or more Surveyors." He pointed out that "reexamination of disturbances in the lunar surface created by Surveyor landings, the study of unique lunar features seen by Surveyors, and the return to Earth of objects identified by Surveyors as scientifically important can greatly enhance the scientific and technological value of subsequent Apollo landings. . . ."

MSC informed NASA Hq. on June 1 2 that it had analyzed landing terrain in Hipparchus and Fra Mauro and concluded that these areas were too rough to be given consideration for the Apollo 12 mission. At the same time, MSC recommended that ASSB reconsider the Surveyor III site as a prospective site for that mission. On June 16, Apollo Program Director Sam C. Phillips wrote that Fra Mauro and Hipparchus would not be considered as landing sites for the Apollo 12 mission and that he would entertain consideration of the Surveyor III site following analysis of its scientific desirability in a meeting of the Group for Lunar Exploration Planning at MSC on June 17 and subsequent recommendations by MSC and NASA Hq. OMSF staff members.


29 July 1969 Tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program Program: Apollo.

NASA issued a tentative planning schedule for the Apollo program:

FlightLaunch PlansTentative Landing Area
Apollo 12November 1969Oceanus Procellarum lunar lowlands
Apollo 13March 1970Fra Mauro highlands
Apollo 14July 1970Crater Censorinus highlands
Apollo 15November 1970Littrow volcanic area
Apollo 16April 1971Crater Tycho (Surveyor VII impact area)
Apollo 17September 1971Marius Hills volcanic domes
Apollo 18February 1972Schroter's Valley, riverlike channel-ways
Apollo 19July 1972Hyginus Rille region-Linear Rille, crater area
Apollo 20December 1972Crater Copernicus, large crater impact area


12 October 1969 Decision that Apollo 12 mission would examine Surveyor III and recover its TV camera Program: Apollo.

A portion of the Apollo 12 mission would be devoted to an examination of Surveyor III and recovery of its TV camera and thermal-switch glass mirror fragments, MSC announced. Additional Details: Decision that Apollo 12 mission would examine Surveyor III and recover its TV camera.


10 November 1969 Apollo 12 targetting point for Surveyor 3 changed Program: Apollo.

At the request of the Apollo 12 crew, the internal primary guidance and navigational control system targeting for descent was being changed so that the automatic guidance would land LM-6 at Surveyor III rather than at a point offset 305 meters east and 153 meters north as originally planned.


20 November 1969 EVA Apollo 12-2 Program: Apollo. Flight Crew: Conrad, Bean.

Moonwalk to Surveyor 3, which had landed two years before. Recovered parts of Surveyor 3 which seemed to show that Earth bacteria could survive for that period in space and be revived.



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Last update 12 March 2001.
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