Surveyor 2

by Hamish Lindsay.

Surveyor 2.

Launched : 1232:00 UT (2232:00 AEST) Tuesday 20 September 1966
Landed : Crash landed at 0318 UT (1318 AEST) Friday 23 September 1966
Location : South east of Copernicus Crater
Final LOS : Friday 23 September 1966.

This spacecraft was the second of a series designed to achieve a soft landing on the moon and to return lunar surface photography for determining characteristics of the lunar terrain for Apollo lunar landing missions. It was also equipped to return data on radar reflectivity of the lunar surface, bearing strength of the lunar surface, and spacecraft temperatures for use in the analysis of lunar surface temperatures. The target area proposed was within Sinus Medii.

Surveyor 2 was launched at 12:32 UT (2232 AEST) on 20 September 1966 from Launch Complex 36A on an Atlas-Centaur D AC-7 booster.

During the midcourse manoeuvre, one vernier engine failed to ignite, resulting in an unbalanced thrust that caused the spacecraft to tumble. Contact with the spacecraft was lost at 9:35 UT (1935 AEST) 22 September, 1966. Attempts to salvage the mission failed and it impacted the Moon on 23 September 1966 at 03:18 UT (1318 AEST) at roughly Latitude 5.5ºN, Longitude 12ºW, south east of Copernicus Crater.

Deputy Director Mike Dinn at Tidbinbilla:

“We were tracking at Tidbinbilla at the moment it failed – one of the vernier rockets failed during a mid-course correction, causing the spacecraft to tumble. We were tracking right through all of this, I remember it well, we could see the tumbling on the Doppler frequency change – we actually plotted them out.

In the end they sent the command through us to fire the big retro rocket for no reason at all that we could see – it was nowhere near the Moon – and the spacecraft signal just disappeared!”




See also:

The Missions: Surveyor 1, Surveyor 2, Surveyor 3, Surveyor 4, Surveyor 5, Surveyor 6, Surveyor 7.

Surveyor Program Results Summary, The Surveyor Spacecraft and Systems.