Juturn V with the Munlander Mk.II Spacecraft
Juturn V is a three-staged launch vehicle.
First stage contains five kerosene and liquid oxygen burning, powerful engines. Aerodynamic control is provided with four moving fins. Future variants are expected to use gimbal engines on all stages. This first stage is used to lift the massive vehicle from the launch pad and through the lower atmosphere.
Second stage contains five hydrogen-oxygen burning rockets that have gimbal mounts to provide control during ascent. This stage burn lasts significantly longer than Stage #1 burn. Here, the second stage is just being separated.
The third stage is the actual Mun rocket. It is powered by a single, gimballed liquid fuel rocket engine and provides the necessary delta-v for final orbital insertion burn, transmunar injection burn, and munar orbit entry burn. Its power is in relatively long, sustained burns.
On top of the third stage is the Munlander Mk.II Spacecraft. The Munlander was originally developed as a Flophopper Mk.I craft used on Kerbin for various types of practice missions and even orbital re-entries, which is why its engine is rather overpowered for Munar landings, but Jebediah likes it the way it is and it was cheaper and easier to just bolt it on top of Juturn V rocket, than design a more suitable lander craft.
Munlander Mk.II contains technically two stages. The lower stage contains a powerful (and heavy) fission engine with excellent fuel efficiency, yet sufficient thrust to fly the spacecraft safely even on Kerbin's gravity field. In Mun landings, it has very wide safety margins - it has more than enough fuel for powered descent, landing, and even take-off, so it would be amiss to simply call it a descent stage. The lander uses Captain Slug's lander legs - three for optimal stability on uneven terrains. Due to heavy fission engine on the bottom, the lander is surprisingly capable at landing on tilted surfaces without toppling over - indeed, pilots have experienced a tendency to slide down slopes instead of toppling over. This gives the pilots additional safety margin in landings - if first landing zone is not suitable, the craft will not be as likely to fall over as its appearance would suggest.
The top stage was originally designed as an emergency escape pod for the Flophopper Mk.I design. In that incarnation, it had a habit of detonating the lower stage as the engine ignited. The Munlander Mk.II is, however, equipped with retrothrusters that should (in theory) push the lower stage away from the upper stage before engine ignition - and in case they malfunction, the RCS thrusters can also be used for forward thrust. Upper stage is powered by a small liquid fuel rocket engine and the craft has plenty of fuel to return to Kerbin from Mun mission.
The lower stage of Munlander Mk.II contains one RCS fuel tank and a single SAS module, and the upper stage contains a single RCS fuel tank.
For extravehicular activity on the Mun, the craft is fitted with rope ladders. It is hoped that in the future, additional cargo (such as Munar Rover, or scientific equipment) can be fitted in the space between fairings and the core of the lower stage.
On the very top of the stack is a Command Module that acts as the habitat for the crew during the duration of the mission.
Getting to Moon is not a very straightforward process, much less so than simply entering stable orbit.
After stabilizing an orbit around Kerbin, a transmunar injection burn needs to be plotted. Transmunar injection puts the spacecraft on a transfer orbit to rendezvous with the Mun.
After moving to the gravitational influence of the Mun, you will find your spacecraft most likely on a hyperbolic trajectory around or behind the Mun:
Near the periapsis, the third stage of Juturn V performs its last required task: Insertion on Munar orbit by slowing down the spacecraft with its remaining fuel.
Orbit successfully stabilized! The third stage had enough fuel in this mission that it actually moved the periapsis to the other side of the orbit, and the entry point became the new apoapsis for the orbit.
After orbit was stabilized, it was time to jettison the third stage. Munlander was now on its own, far from home.
Next step was planning the de-orbit, descent and landing zone. I decided I would be landing next to the large Mare on the lit side of the Mun, preferably near the rim mountains around it. That meant I would be starting my de-orbit and descent near the periapsis of the orbit. As the ship emerged from the shadow of the Mun, the vista was truly magnificent.
The de-orbit burn put the spacecraft on a shallow descent that would take it above the desired landing zone. During this high speed, unpowered descent, some final adjustments could be made for the general landing zone.
Powered descent started as the craft passed south of the dark Mare on the Mun. This maneuver put the craft on a steeper descent path but also slowed down the total velocity significantly. The angle of descent would gradially deepen until the craft would descend vertically before touchdown. Final descent began at altitude of about 6000 metres above Munar surface.
This first touchdown was in too steep territory, and as the ship tilted dangerously, commander Kerman increased thrust to take the ship back up, then located a more suitable landing area and finally put the ship down for good.
The final touchdown occurred at flight time 7 hours, 17 minutes and probably about 10-20 seconds (no one was watching the clock at the exact moment, so it'll never be known exactly). Landing area was a few dozen kilometres southeast of the aforementioned Mare, on the foothills of the ridge mountains.
After spending some jolly good time on the surface of the Mun, the Kerbalkind's brave ambassadors left this foreign world and headed home.
Full speed ahead! The remaining fuel on the lower stage of Munlander was sufficient to boost the spacecraft to a ballistic trajectory about ye high:
At the top of the arc, it was time to lay the lower stage to rest and separate the command/service module on top of it for the remainder of the mission, and then boost the ship first on stable orbit around the Mun:
Setting homebound orbit was trickier than I expected. Initially the trajectory looked all fine and good... with stunning visuals on the way home:http://img513.imageshack.us/img513/1948/screenshot92d.pnghttp://img189.imageshack.us/img189/9049/screenshot93.png
...but, at the gravitational switch point between Mun and Kerbin, something strange happened:
Basically, I got stuck between two orbits and the game didn't know which one I was supposed to follow. What was even worse, the game thought I was experiencing acceleration, and limited time compression to 2x, so I spent ages in this point. Worse still, as the game was switching between the two trajectories, it also switched the orbit-relative camera angle all the time, making the normal view completely epileptic and unplayable. After a while, I got fed up, did a burn of couple dozen seconds at full power to get out of the conflict area, and eventually the flickering tuned down and eventually stopped. I didn't truly hit Lagrange point, but it was close.
However, now I had a problem, as the ship initially settled on this kind of trajectory:
...and I had to do some rather fuel consuming trickery to change my trajectory to this:
As I got close to perikerb, I did a long ass retrograde burn, trying to align my trajectory with Kerbal Space Center location - but, as it turns out, the trajectory fell a bit short.
After deciding I had finalized my trajectory, I jettisoned the service module:
Space center in sight... so close, yet so far. Already too deep in atmosphere. Well, nothing to it... will just perform normal parachute landing somewhere in the deepest Kerfrica.
This successful mission was a huge surprise to mission control who honestly expected them to run out of fuel or crash at some point during the mission. Reports from Kerbal Space Center indicate heavy casualties of the upper management team, suffering afflictions ranging from mild nervous twitching and epileptic seizures to full on heart attacks and cerebral hemorrhaging. Crisis team has been assembled to help the affected.