In the early 1960s NASA was attempting to obtain good close up photos of the lunar surface in preparation for the Apollo manned missions. Project Ranger was a series of unmanned probes that were designed to fly to the Moon then crash into the surface sending back photos right up until the moment of impact.
The first 6 missions which had started in 1961 were all failures. The first successful crash landing was Ranger 7 on 31st July 1964. The photographs were the best close up views of the Moon that scientists had received.
|This is the Mare Nubium area of the Moon|
There was so much concern over the failure of earlier Ranger missions that the project had been dubbed project 'shoot and hope'. Following Ranger 7 two further successful ranger missions were launched to the Moon.