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- Type: VAB
- Class: probe
- Part Count: 41
- Mods: 4
- Bluedog DB
- Squad (stock)
- TweakScale - Rescale Everything!
Lunar exploration began with unaided observation for thousands of years before telescopes by early astronomers going all the way back to ancient Greece, Babylon, and Egypt. It truly spring in earnest when Galileo first observed the Moon through a telescope of his own design in 1609 and remarked with great surprise at how lunar terrain was as vast and differed as Earth’s terrain. The ushering of classical Newtonian physics lead to even more serious study of the Moon and its relationship with the Earth.
The Soviet Union captured the first couple of early victories for lunar exploration beginning with Luna 1’s first flyby of the Moon on January 4th, 1959 but it was soon followed by NASA’s Pioneer 4 just two months later. The early Luna and Pioneer programs made some successful observations of the aspects of the Moon’s physical characters. It noted the complete lack of magnetic field, surprising to many in the field, several anomalies in its gravity even greater than anomalies in Earth’s gravity and key details about its orbit.
Luna 3 became the first probe to send back low-resolution pictures of the far side of the Moon of which humanity had never seen because of its tidal-locked nature. The Luna programme would continue to achieve Soviet victories while NASA continued on with the Ranger program of lunar impactors which provided better resolution photos of the lunar surface. The highly successful Surveyor program made a number of soft landings while the less famous Lunar Orbiter program surveyed potential Apollo landing sites as if we land on the Moon became when we land on the Moon.
There were a total of five Lunar Orbiter probes sent between August 1966 and August 1967 with three being total successes and degrees of success with the other two. The first three were used exclusively for surveying potential landing sites while the fourth and fifth were more general survey missions including high-resolution photos taken with Lunar Orbiter 5. They were all launched with the reliable Atlas-Agena/D rocket and from a launch perspective were all highly successful.
The Bossart is Bluedog Design Bureau’s second approximation of the Atlas rocket and a replacement for its older Muo design. It uses the famous stage-and-a-half design with the booster engine skirt being ejected by the time you enter the upper atmosphere or when you have 30 seconds of burn time left for the Bossart.
The Munar Orbiter is an approximation of the Lunar Orbiter and is mostly a mock-up with limited functionality. It possesses a couple of experiments as well as an on-board camera which act as science experiment (although pointless in Sandbox mode). The probe core does provide KerbNet access and information can be transmitted through the pair of antennae – one dish and one omnidirectional – that provide plenty of range. Lastly it possesses a monopropellent on-board engine which should give you about 340 m/s dV which can be used in a number of ways depending on your approach and then allow it to be incidental impact probe at the end of its mission.
The specifics of the mission depend on which approach you wish and what, if any, parking orbits are part of your mission plan:
The easiest and most a-historical approach would be to establish an initial parking orbit around Kerbin, make a TMI (Trans Munar Injection) burn from that orbit, and then maybe enter into another parking orbit around the Mun before depositing the Munar Orbiter satellite. You should use the Bossart stage to ascend and establish a parking orbit in LKO (Low Kerbin Orbit) with a recommendation of about 100 km. The Belle-D upper stage would then be used for the TMI and MOI (Munar Orbital Insertion) burns while the MO’s on-board engine would just be used for adjustments and an eventual impact burn.
- This approach has a couple of drawbacks including the need to make multiple burns and it will leave considerable orbital debris around both Kerbin and the Mun. It’s recommended for newer players who aren’t yet comfortable with launch windows or making potential mid-course corrections.
The second approach is a hybridization with the first approach’s ascent and parking orbit but switching over to the Belle-D just before finishing a stable orbit and thus putting the Bossart on a re-entry trajectory. The Belle-D will make the usual TMI burn but will aim for a impact trajectory with the Mun. The Munar Orbiter should be detached at some point with an initial course correction to avoid a potential impact and then a burn to retrograde at periapsis to put it into a stable orbit.
- This approach still eliminates the need for a launch window but gets rid of any orbital rocket debris at the cost of needing to use most of the on-board engine’s fuel supply for the course correction and MOI burns. You probably won’t have enough fuel for a circular low orbit and possibly not even for an impact burn.
The third and historical approach is to make a direct ascent to the Mun at a launch window, discarding the booster skirt at the upper atmosphere, and you should hit the Mun’s SOI at 12,000 km. You’ll possibly exhaust the Bossart before reaching that altitude after which you switch over to the Belle-D to continue the journey to an impact trajectory. You should make some small adjustments with the Belle-D to ensure its an impact trajectory and then decouple the Munar Orbiter once you reach the SOI. The on-board engine will make the course correction and MOI burns, much like the second approach.
- This approach requires you to watch for a launch window which luckily is available in the first few minutes of a new campaign and occurs frequently – every time the angle between the two bodies is about 45 degrees. It eliminates most debris but you might not have any fuel left for an impact burn – something you can practice with making your launch more efficient.
Built in the VAB in KSP version 1.6.1.
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