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- Type: VAB
- Class: probe
- Part Count: 50
- Mods: 4
- Bluedog DB
- Squad (stock)
The Space Race’s lofty goal was eventually landing an astronaut or cosmonaut on the Moon, preferably before the decade was out as promised by JFK. However there were many goals that had to be reached if either country had a reliable chance of making that landing. The ability to make a soft landing on the Moon with a robotic probe was one of these goals and was finally accomplished by the Soviet Union’s Luna 9 in February 3rd, 1966 and was followed by the United State’s Surveyor 1 on June 2nd, 1966. Surveyor 1’s success was made possible by the development and reliability of the Atlas launch vehicle and the development of the powerful cryogenic-fueled Centaur upper stage.
The Atlas rocket had already been developed into a reliable launch vehicle having been used as a number of variants including a man-rated version used for all but two of the Mercury missions. That variant, the Atlas LV-3B, was further modified into the Atlas LV-3C that served as the main lifter for the Atlas-Centaur before newer variants such as the SLV-3C were used. The Centaur was developed at Corsair as a more powerful upper stage for larger payloads such as the proposed lunar probe landers. It had a number of difficulties and went through a couple of extensive modifications before the first operational model, the Centaur D, flew in 1965 and continued as one of NASA’s workhorse until being retired in 1989 with a record of 55 out of 63 successful missions.
The Bossart is Bluedog Design Bureau’s second approximation of the Atlas LV-3C and a replacement for its classic Muo rocket with few operational differences. It is still one-and-a-half stages much like the real Atlas LV-3C. The main and booster stages are fired together with the booster fairings and two smaller engines ejected upon reaching the upper atmosphere. The main engine continues the rest of the ascent as well as handling most of the orbital process.
The Inon-D is Bluedog Design Bureau’s approximation of the Centaur-D and like its historical counterpart is a powerful upper stage allowing for payloads in excess of 500kg bound for the Munar surface. It can also be subject to boil-off, depending on your settings, where you will lose a bit of the cryogenic fuels over time.
I have included a small Munar lander probe weighing approximately 350kg which simulates Surveyor 1 and in future updates may be replaced with a more historical version of Surveyor 1. While not historical I recommend activating at least one of its antenna to keep in control of the vessel depending on your settings or mods. The lander has a small engine and RCS capabilities to make a basic landing and perhaps even serve as a beacon for future landings.
The mission profile can be handled one of two ways – either a-historically with a parking orbit or historically with a direct trajectory. I don’t recommend a direct trajectory for newer players as it requires precise timing with your launch. If you plan on using a parking orbit then it will probably have to done with two burns – the last of the Bossart’s fuel and a finishing burn by the Inon-D. This will probably leave you with a bit of eccentricity to your parking orbit which you may choose to circularize if you want a very precise TMI (Trans Munar Injection) burn.
The Inon-D will primarily handle the TMI and MOI (Munar Orbital Insertion) burns with more than enough fuel to fine tune any burn. It is also more than powerful enough if you want to put your payload into a heliocentric orbit but won’t be powerful for any interplanetary missions with this configuration.
Built in the VAB in KSP version 1.4.3.
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