Encyclopedia Astronautica
1959.05.09 - High-resolution photographs of the moon using Vega rocket


Milton W. Rosen of NASA Headquarters proposed a plan for obtaining high-resolution photographs of the moon. A three-stage Vega would place the payload within a 500-mile diameter circle on the lunar surface. A stabilized retrorocket fired at 500 miles above the moon would slow the instrument package sufficiently to permit 20 photographs to be transmitted at a rate of one picture per minute.

A radio altimeter could be used to index the height at which each picture was taken. The camera system, developed by the Eastman Kodak Company for the Air Force, would be available within the year. The alternative approach of using direct television appeared less attractive because the resolution of the television system was at least an order of magnitude lower than the comparable photographic system. Because of the difficulty in placing an instrument package in a close lunar orbit, photographs taken by a vehicle orbiting the moon, including those taken of the far side and recorded on magnetic tape for later transmission, would probably have low resolution owing to the distance from the lunar surface. On June 12, Rosen described a new television system which could be used for early attempts at lunar photography. The system, which would be available within a year, would relay pictures comparable to that of the Eastman Kodak camera system.

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