Encyclopedia Astronautica
Mariner R


American Venus probe. Study 1961. Planned 1961 JPL crash program to beat the Soviet Union in launching the first probe to another planet.

Mariner R would use be essentially a quick modification of a Ranger spacecraft, shot toward Venus rather than the moon. Instead the US government elected to wait a bit. Russian planetary probes failed repeatedly en route, and JPL's Mariner 2 became the first spacecraft to reach Venus in December 1962.

In its political desire to beat the Soviet Union to a planetary shot, the United States wanted to launch probes to the planets in 1962 if at all possible and chose Venus as the most likely target, since flights to Earth's closest neighbor would require less powerful rockets. On 28 August 1961, JPL proposed a 1962 Venus mission based on an Atlas-Agena launch vehicle, using hybrid spacecraft that combined features of JPL's lunar Ranger and Mariner A. This proposed spacecraft, called Mariner R, could carry about 11 kilograms of instruments. The 1962 project would not have a significant influence on the schedule for lunar Rangers, but a reallocation of launch vehicles would be required.

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Associated Countries
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Associated Launch Vehicles
  • Atlas The Atlas rocket, originally developed as America's first ICBM, was the basis for most early American space exploration and was that country's most successful medium-lift commercial launch vehicle. It launched America's first astronaut into orbit; the first generations of spy satellites; the first lunar orbiters and landers; the first probes to Venus, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn; and was America's most successful commercial launcher of communications satellites. Its innovative stage-and-a-half and 'balloon tank' design provided the best dry-mass fraction of any launch vehicle ever built. It was retired in 2004 after 576 launches in a 47-year career. More...
  • Atlas Agena B American orbital launch vehicle. Atlas D with improved, enlarged Agena upper stage. More...

Associated Manufacturers and Agencies
  • JPL American agency;manufacturer of rockets, spacecraft, and rocket engines. Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, USA. More...
  • NASA American agency overseeing development of rockets and spacecraft. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, USA, USA. More...

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