Fifty years ago this week saw the Ranger spacecraft take the first pictures of the moon at close range, as part of nine unmanned US space missions. On 31 July 1964 Ranger 7 began transmitting close images of the lunar surface back to earth, using Vidicon cameras, fitted with Angénieux lenses.
The spacecraft carried six television Vidicon cameras arranged in two separate chains, each self-contained with separate power supplies, timers, and transmitters. Three of the cameras positioned on the bottom row were fitted with the Angénieux 25mm f:0.95 M1 lenses ( for wide-angle shots) while the top three were fitted with the same B&L 76mm f2 Super-Baltar lenses.
Parallel to Ranger programme, Angénieux collaborated with the NASA for the preparation of Apollo programme, with the objective of sending a man to the moon.
In May 1969 the Apollo 10 spacecraft carried a Westinghouse TV colour camera equipped with a 6x25 Angénieux zoom providing the first colour video images of the crew and of the moon shot from a short distance. The same camera was used in Apollo 11 command module, shooting live in colour the astronauts Niels Amstrong and Buzz Aldrin on their trip to and from the moon surface.
Video that NASA released at the time of the Ranger 7 flight, showing a time-lapse of the images shot by Ranger. The frames in the video are all from the wide-angle ‘Fa’ camera fitted with Angénieux 25mm f0.95 lens. None of the narrow-angle images are shown.
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