DESTINATION MOON: A History of the Lunar Orbiter Program
The Centaur Rocket Program

[15] The Centaur Rocket Program did not facilitate JPL's work on Surveyor. The Marshall Space Flight Center, in charge of Centaur but with the Saturn Rocket Program as its prime responsibility, was experiencing development problems which caused the rocket's delivery schedule to slip, moving the earliest date for the first launch of a Surveyor Lander to late 1964. Moreover, the Centaur difficulties motivated officials in the Office of Space Sciences to review Surveyor Orbiter plant with the objective of obtaining an orbiter independent of Centaur. The Office of Space Sciences began to examine the idea of a spacecraft which might use existing hardware and the Agena rocket, already successfully tested in space. By September 1962 OSS had the requirements for, and the feasibility of, a lightweight lunar orbiter under serious study. Nevertheless, it had one major technological obstacle to surmount: developing a flexible, long-life photographic system capable of obtaining data to meet the requirements established by the Office of Manned Space Flight.