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Surveyor 4



This spacecraft was the fourth in a series designed to achieve a soft landing on the moon and to return photography of the lunar surface for determining characteristics of the lunar terrain for Apollo lunar landing missions. Equipment on board included a television camera and auxiliary mirrors, a soil mechanics surface sampler, strain gauges on the spacecraft landing legs, and numerous engineering sensors. After a flawless flight to the Moon, radio signals from the spacecraft ceased during the terminal-descent phase at 2:02:40 UT (41 seconds after main retrorocket ignition) on 17 July 1967, approximately 2.5 min before planned touchdown. Contact with the spacecraft was never reestablished, and the mission was unsuccessful. It was not known if only communications were lost and the lander proceeded with a soft landing, or if there were other failures and the lander crashed. The landing target was estimated to be 0.43 N, 1.62 W (or 0.37 N, 1.55 W) for a soft landing and 0.47 N, 1.44 W (or 0.469 N, 1.086 W) for a ballistic crash. It is also possible the spacecraft solid propellant retrorockets exploded, causing destruction of Surveyor 4.

The Surveyor program involved building and launching seven Surveyor spacecraft to the Moon at a total cost of $469 million.

Alternate Names

  • 02875
  • Surveyor4

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1967-07-14
Launch Vehicle: Atlas-Centaur
Launch Site: Cape Canaveral, United States
Mass: 283 kg

Funding Agency

  • NASA-Office of Space Science Applications (United States)


  • Planetary Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Coordinated Request and User Support Office


Selected References

  • Surveyor 4 mission report, JPL, Calif. Inst. Technol., TR 32-1210, Pasadena, CA, Jan. 1968.
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