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Lunar Orbitier

Apollo program, Apollo astronauts, moon landing, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR

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Lunar Orbiter, series of United States spacecraft that orbited the moon between August 1966 and January 1968. The primary mission of the Lunar Orbiters was to provide detailed photographs of the Apollo Zone, the region of the moon where the Apollo astronauts planned to land. The first three Lunar Orbiters completely mapped the Apollo Zone, so the remaining two spacecraft went on to photograph the rest of the moon. The Lunar Orbiters and the concurrent Surveyor program were the final U.S. spacecraft to prepare the way for the Apollo program. The United States had sent spacecraft to the moon during the Pioneer, Ranger, and Surveyor programs, and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) sent Luna and Zond probes to the moon before, during, and after the Lunar Orbiter program. The USSR launched Luna 10, the first spacecraft in lunar orbit, a few months before the U.S. launched Lunar Orbiter 1; the U.S. Lunar Orbiters rapidly surpassed the Soviet orbiters and prepared the United States for the first piloted moon landing.

Contributors

Portree, David S. F., B.A., M.S.

Freelance writer and space historian. Author of "Walking to Olympus: An EVA Chronology".



Article key phrases:

Apollo program, Apollo astronauts, moon landing, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, USSR, Pioneer, Ranger, rest, region, August, January, months, way

 
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