January 30, 2012 - Lunar Orbiter Liftoff

Lunar Orbiter Liftoff In 1966 and 1967, NASA sent five robotic Lunar Orbiter spacecraft to the Moon to create high-resolution photographic maps of the lunar surface to aid in selecting future Apollo landing sites. The images from the Lunar Orbiters arrived at Earth in a unique way: a camera took the photographs, an automatic photo lab on board developed the film using traditional darkroom techniques (modified for the weightlessness of space), and a fax machine scanned the resulting prints and radioed them back to Earth. This created high-resolution strips of images that were then pieced together to form wide-angle mosaics of the Moon, like this oblique view of the fifty-eight-kilometer-wide (thirty-six-mile-wide) Murchison Crater taken by Lunar Orbiter III, launched forty-five years ago this week.

Image credit: NASA

Weekly Calendar

January 30 - February 5, 2012

Holidays - Sky Events - Space History

Moon phase Monday 30

Jupiter 5° south of Moon
Moon at apogee
First Quarter Moon 11:10 PM ET

1964: Ranger 6 launched

Moon phase Tuesday 31

1958: Explorer 1 launched
1961: Mercury Redstone 2 suborbital flight with chimpanzee Ham
1966: Luna 9 launched
1971: Apollo 14 launched
1985: ESA approves the Columbus program

Moon phase Wednesday 1

1956: Army Ballistic Missile Agency (ABMA) established
1959: First Titan I launch
2003: Space shuttle Columbia destroyed during reentry; 7 astronauts die

Moon phase Thursday 2

Groundhog Day

Moon phase Friday 3

1966: Luna 9 lands on Moon
1984: STS-41B Challenger launched
STS-60 Discovery launched
1995: STS-63 Discovery launched
: Astronauts aboard the ISS launch SuitSat satellite

Moon phase Saturday 4

1906: Clyde Tombaugh born

Moon phase Sunday 5

1965: First test of Apollo Service Propulsion System engine
1967: Lunar Orbiter III launched
1971: Apollo 14 lands on Moon
1974: Mariner 10 uses gravity of Venus to adjust trajectory toward Mercury

Suggestions for new history dates or better links? Corrections for errors on this page? Please e-mail me.