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Paper models, photos and musings of a Paper Kosmonaut

10 February 2012

Ranger 7 (#1)

I kind of am on a new roll. Hurray!

I started on a new small probe, this time an oldie from 1964.
Some history: The Ranger program was aimed at gaining more geo- or rather selenographical knowledge. The surface of the moon was soon to be visited by humans and NASA wanted more information on where to land (and of course much more).
They designed a probe called Ranger to investigate. The idea of Ranger was to photograph the moon in detail while falling to the surface in a kind of suicide mission. The first six weren't particularly successful. Block I (the first version) of the probe (Ranger 1 and 2) were quite crude probes, a framework with two small solar panel wings. A hexagonal bus as main structure and a tower made of metal struts and tubing. They were meant to test in earth orbit but both more or less failed.
Ranger 1 (© NASA)
Block II was a little more sophisticated and looked a little retrofuturistic, carrying a ball-shaped top on the tower and a partial metal hull around the tower. Ranger 3 to 5 were sent to the moon but two just missed the moon and went into orbit round the sun and one crashed on the moon's backside without sending data.

Ranger 3 (© NASA)
Ranger 5 (© NASA)
Block III was an all-aluminium, new design with a shiny tower carrying a TV camera. The hexagonal shape of the main bus was the same.
Ranger 6 and onward (© NASA)
The first Block III probe, Ranger 6 was the first relatively successful probe of the series. However, its TV camera switched on during the staging of the Atlas rocket it was carried aloft on. This caused the electronics to arc and destroy the camera. The probe however, flew straight to the moon and impacted on the right spot, sending data (but no pictures)
.
Ranger 7 was the first to succeed completely. It sent back pictures in an hitherto unprecedented quality, down to 480 meters above the surface. The last picture was only received partially when the probe crashed and stopped transmitting.

Ranger 7's last image. The right side could not be
transmitted any more due to the crash. (© NASA)
 John Jogerst made a nice paper model kit of the probe. John's main purposes with models is educating (and fun, of course) and the way he designs causes him to keep his models a little lacking
in the detailing. I decided to use his model as a starting point and use my own materials and paper.
more after the break.
I started out with changing the camera opening of the original tower. It was upside down. Then I took a blunt needle and made lines to suggest rivets.


I really like this result.
After carefully curving and glueing I added the camera housing and some reinforcement bands around the tower I made from metallic paper. The top got a bronze colour and the triangular reinforcement parts around.




Next was the main bus. A hexagonal shape for which I used Yogi's base shape and rebuilt it from scratch. 
The irregularities were cut off, of course.

After that I took some mesh tape (normally used for plastering flush the seams between plasterboards) and stuck it to thick grey paper, after I painted it anthracite.

This was a test, not painted yet.

Still a bit crude, the real thing is much more refined, but it looks nice and busy.
After cutting out in two panels, I added strips of paper and some reinforcements. These will be the backsides of the solar panels. The front side was made from blue metallic paper with a pattern of lines being cut in the upper layer. The panels then were joined, cut and the front was put in a thick, rich layer of transparent gloss acrylic paint (Tamiya).

That brownish colour is just a reflection. It is very shiny.
And that's where I am now. More next time!
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