The primary objectives of the Surveyor program, were to support the Apollo landings by: (1) developing and validating the technology for landing softly on the Moon; (2) providing data on the compatibility of the Apollo design with conditions encountered on the lunar surface; and (3) adding to the scientific knowledge of the Moon.
A total of five Lunar Orbiter missions were launched by the US in 1966 through 1967. The purpose of the lunar orbiter series was to photograph the moon’s surface for selection and verification of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions.
During 1962, NASA faced three major tasks: first the mode selection and its defense (covered in episodes 106-109), second keeping North American moving on the command and service modules (covered in episode 110) and third finding a contractor to develop the separate landing vehicle required by that approach. Which we will cover today in episode 111.
In the 1960s, during the cold war, the US and Soviet Union turned their attention to the moon. The question was, who could place a man on the moon and return him safely to the earth first? Obtaining the necessary data on the moon to risk sending a person there was crucial. The US and Soviet Union chose unmanned spacecraft to scout for this information…
During 1965 through January 1966, several significant Soviet unmanned scientific missions were launched. Five of the missions will be covered in this episode. We will begin with the Soviet Luna program.