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Target: Moon  
State: Planned

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Kind: Lunar lander

State: Partial failure

Place: Moon

Operator: NASA



Duration: 45 days (launch to last contact)

Mission Ending

Last Contact: February 21, 1968 (1968-02-22)


Rocket: Atlas SLV-3C Centaur-D

Kind: NASA

Manufacturer: Hughes Aircraft

Mass: 1,039 kilograms (2,291 lb)

Launch Site: Cape Canaveral LC-36A


"Requesting permission for flyby." Maverick - Top Gun


"You’re going very fast when you’re on orbit, going around the world once every hour and a half." - Robert Crippen


Place: Lunar

Region: 41°01′S 11°25′W / 41.01°S 11.41°W / -41.01, -11.41

Date: January 10, 1968, 01:05:36 UTC

Surveyor 7 was the seventh and last lunar lander of the American uncrewed Surveyor program sent to explore the surface of the Moon. A total of 21,091 pictures were transmitted to Earth. Surveyor 7 was the fifth and final spacecraft of the Surveyor series to achieve a lunar soft landing. The objectives for this mission were to perform a lunar soft landing (in an area well removed from the maria to provide a type of terrain photography and lunar sample significantly different from those of other Surveyor missions), obtain postlanding TV pictures, determine the relative abundances of chemical elements, manipulate the lunar material, obtain touchdown dynamics data, and obtain thermal and radar reflectivity data. This spacecraft was similar in design to the previous Surveyors, but it carried more scientific equipment including a television camera with polarizing filters, a surface sampler, bar magnets on two footpads, two horseshoe magnets on the surface scoop, and auxiliary mirrors. Of the auxiliary mirrors, three were used to observe areas below the spacecraft, one to provide stereoscopic views of the surface sampler area, and seven to show lunar material deposited on the spacecraft. The spacecraft landed on the lunar surface on January 10, 1968, on the outer rim of the crater Tycho. Operations of the spacecraft began shortly after the soft landing and were terminated on January 26, 1968, 80 hours after sunset. On January 20, while the craft was still in daylight, the TV camera clearly saw two laser beams aimed at it from the night side of the crescent Earth, one from Kitt Peak National Observatory, Tucson, Arizona, and the other at Table Mountain at Wrightwood, California. Operations on the second lunar day occurred from February 12 to 21, 1968. The mission objectives were fully satisfied by the spacecraft operations. Battery damage was suffered during the first lunar night and transmission contact was subsequently sporadic. Contact with Surveyor 7 was lost on February 21, 1968.[citation needed] It was planned to be visited by the cancelled Apollo 20 mission, however Skylab and subsequent budget cuts stopped this from happening.[citation needed] Surveyor 7 was the first probe to detect the faint glow on the lunar horizon after dark that is now thought to be light reflected from electrostatically levitated Moon dust.