Space: Dead on Arrival

As Surveyor 4 sped toward the moon's Central Bay at 5,938 m.p.h. last week, ground controllers at Pasadena's Jet Propulsion Laboratory had high hopes that the unmanned spacecraft would do everything it was told. Two earlier Surveyors had soft-landed on the moon with astonishing ease, sent back 17,465 detailed pictures showing even lunar pebbles. With a hinged aluminum arm, Surveyor 3 had also scooped up lunar soil, helped determine that the moon's surface is strong enough to bear a weight of 6 lbs. per sq. in., more than enough to support the...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!