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Welcome to "On This Day ... in Space!" where we peer back in our archives to find historic moments in spaceflight and astronomy. So enjoy a blast from the past with's Hanneke Weitering to look back at what happened on this day in space!

On March 21, 1965, NASA launched the Ranger 9 spacecraft on a mission to crash into a lunar crater.

Ranger 9 was the last flight of NASA's Ranger Program. The spacecraft would study the crater Alphonsus by crashing directly into it and taking pictures along the way. After launching on an Atlas-Agena rocket, Ranger 9 spent nearly three days making its way over to the moon.

Ranger 7: First U.S. Close-Ups of the Moon

During the last 20 minutes of its flight, it took around 6,000 high-quality images of the moon. It then plowed into the Alphonsus crater at a speed of nearly 9,000 miles per hour.

Images and videos from Ranger 9's descent were broadcast on live television to millions of viewers in the United States.

21 Most Marvelous Moon Missions of All Time

Catch up on our entire "On This Day In Space" series on YouTube with the playlist here.

Email Hanneke Weitering at or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @SpacedotcomFacebook and Google+