Omnidirectional antennas were a staple of NASA’s early planetary exploration craft. Early Ranger (Blocks I through III), Mariner, and lunar-orbiting spacecraft all featured omnidirectional antenna at their apexes. For Ranger, most of the antenna remained covered, with only the very tip protruding from a conical encasing. Mariner featured longer antennas which for some missions, were encased behind grating or in a conic cover. This antenna was used on a lunar orbiter, which photographed the moon in the late 1960s to select landing sites for a human landing mission. Made mostly from aluminum, the antenna protruded directly from the side of the spacecraft. The lunar orbiters featured two antennae: high-gain with singular directional patterns, and low-gain which was omnidirectional.
Hughes Aircraft, the manufacturer of this antenna, donated it to the Museum in 1973.