Lot 6287: Ranger Program Five-Volume Collection of (949) Photographs
13th December 2018
Extremely rare five-volume ‘photographic edition’ set containing 949 lunar images taken by Ranger impact probes 7, 8, and 9 during the program’s successful Block 3 missions between July 1964 and March 1965. The glossy double-weight photographs, each 11 x 14, are numbered and housed accordingly in their original 11.75 x 14.5 x 4 snap-button slipcases, issued as “Photographs from the Moon” and prepared by NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, with each slipcase also including the original information booklet specific to the mission and photographic series. The volumes are as follows: Ranger VII, Part 1: Camera ‘A’ Series, dated August 27, 1964, containing 199 photographs, each showing a single image of the lunar surface. The Ranger 7 probe reached the moon on July 31, 1964, and during the final 17 minutes of its flight transmitted over 4,300 photographs before impacting at Mare Cognitum, an area between Mare Nubium and Oceanus Procellarum near the lunar equator. Both the Surveyor 3 lander and Apollo 12 crew landed near its northern shore, with the crew of Apollo 14 landing at an outcrop of the Fra Mauro formation, which is also in close proximity to Mare Cognitum. Ranger VII, Part 2: Camera ‘B’ Series, dated December 15, 1964, containing 200 photographs, each showing a single image of the lunar surface. Ranger VII, Part 3: Camera ‘P’ Series, dated February 10, 1965, containing 200 photographs, each showing two to four lunar surface images. Ranger VIII, dated December 15, 1965, containing 180 photographs with tabbed separators marked A, B, and P; each photo showing a single image of the lunar surface. The Ranger 8 probe reached the moon on February 20, 1965, and during the final 23 minutes of flight transmitted over 7,100 photographs before making impact at Mare Tranquillitatis, or the Sea of Tranquility. After the Surveyor 5 landed there on September 11, 1967, Mare Tranquillitatis served as the historic landing site for the crew of Apollo 11 and the Lunar Module Eagle. Ranger IX, dated December 15, 1965, containing 170 photographs with tabbed separators marked A, B, and P; each photo showing a single image of the lunar surface. The Ranger 9 probe reached the moon on March 24, 1965, and during the final 20 minutes of flight transmitted over 5,800 photographs before making impact in the Alphonsus crater, which was one of the primary alternate landing sites considered for both the Apollo 16 and the Apollo 17 missions. In overall fine to very good condition, with only a handful of photos exhibiting wear or creasing; some staining to booklets; and scattered soiling and wear to slipcases, with some splitting to bindings, and a missing metal snap to ‘Camera A’ volume. In the early 1960s, NASA developed the Ranger program and a series of impact probes designed to take high-quality pictures of the moon and then transmit them back to Earth. They were programmed to head directly to the moon and capture close-range images before crashing into the lunar surface; the images were used primarily for scientific study, as well as for selecting landing sites for the forthcoming Apollo missions. After failed attempts on the first six spacecraft, the Block 3 missions of Rangers 7, 8 and 9 proved remarkably successful, with transmitted images 1000 times better than those attained by Earth-based telescopes. An amazing assemblage of lunar photography deriving from the program that helped lay the foundation for the Apollo program.
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