Saturday, February 9, 2013

Kerbal Space Project: Mün Probe Test

It would be pretty disappointing if the probes were unable to, say, descend to a landing on the Mün, or exploded during take-off, or didn't generate sufficient electricity to operate, or if the legs were too weak to support a landing, etc.

So, the complete probe stage was sliced down to just one section, mounted to a Mün transition rocket, and then launched. This is the story of the Mün Probe Test mission MPT-1 - the first mission building towards the interplanetary tour that is the ultimate goal of the Kerbal Space Project.

The rocket: One kerbanaut will pilot this beast. Four probes mounted radially to the hull. A bunch of rocket fuel and a triple-nuclear-engine setup to make the transfer from Kerbin orbit to the Mün.

Taking off from the Kerbal Space Port. All systems are nominal, although I had been hoping for more acceleration at this stage. Lendin is at the helm. Mental note: add boosters.
Separating the last of the so-called "asparagus stages." The remaining vehicle parts will travel away from Kerbin, while these four discarded tanks and engines will de-orbit and explode on the surface. In an empty spot of ocean or farm, I hope.
 There they go!

Here's the Hohmann transfer! No turning back now!

The burn took a good 8 minutes, which is a considerable portion of the orbit at the low altitude I was keeping!
Mental note: The full-sized vehicle is going to need considerably more thrust.
Reached the Mün and circularized the orbit. Easy as pie, and everything is peachy keen. Look at how much fuel there is left!

One probe decouples from the ship, and slowly drifts away.
Mental note: don't forget to activate ALL the engines next time.
It handles like a lopsided goose.
Mental note: Oh god, who built this thing?

For some bizarre reason, mission control decided it would be best to deploy the radio dish, comm antenna, and all the scientific gadgets before executing the landing. The probe now handles like a drunk lopsided goose.
Mental note: I have to land this thing?!?

There it is, solidly on the surface, and with more than 15% fuel to spare.
Scientific data is forthcoming!

Due to the unexpected success of this preliminary mission, it has been extended to include a landing on Minmus. It has also been determined that there is now an uneven number of probes mounted to the vessel, which may cause Lendin some difficulty executing the transfer burns. Therefore, a second probe will be released, and will remain in orbit.
Mental note: it would be nice to avoid this by having some probe-sized empty fuel tanks to shift the center-of-mass around.

Next up: MPT-2-Minmus!

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