This is a flight spare flight control sensor assembly from the Surveyor soft-landing program to the Moon in the 1960s. Although not flown to the Moon, it is identical to those on the five Surveyor spacecraft that successfully reached the Moon during the period from May 30, 1966 to January 9, 1968. The spacecraft was three-axis stabilized during cruise via such sensors such as this, using the Sun and the star Canopus as attitude references, and a cold-gas reaction control system for attitude control. By using two sun sensors and a Canopus star sensor in this assembly, the spacecraft could be navigated to the Moon.
The overall objectives of the Surveyor program were to accomplish soft landings on the Moon, obtain data concerning temperature, chemical composition, and load-bearing characteristics of the lunar soil in support of the Apollo program, televise high quality photographs of the lunar surface, and perform operations on the lunar surface that would contribute new scientific knowledge about the Moon.
The Hughes Aircraft Company donated this to the Museum in 1973.
Gift of Hughes Aircraft Co.