((In a similar vein to Omega's post, herein lies the tale of my first Munar mission. Heck ,the first thing that's even got near the Mun. It's taken most of this week, in between messing around with 0APRs and jets.))
While SeffTech has been deploying Probulators across Kerbin, one additional Probulator was deployed, and this one was Special.
The Deep Spess Probulator Mk1 was developed to test the Ion drive in space rather than on the ground as with the 0APR Mk1s and because venting a searing beam of superheavy gas out of the back of several tonnes of flying SCIENCE is pretty metal.
The initial orbit it was deployed in can be seen by the left hand ellipse. It reached a total distance from Kerbin of 22Mm, twice Munar orbit. After dumping the boost stage and testing the engine, enterprising SCIENtists noticed that the cack-handed orbit that it was in kinda passed sort of near Munar orbit.
As such, the engine was throttled up to bring the Probulator closer to Kerbin, hence the right hand ellipse on the plot.
The inital Munar pass
achieved a notable SCIENCE goal: to bring a bleeping device within a reasonable distance
of the Mun, in order to begin the probulation. As the Probulator whipped past the Mun, Mission control decided to burn the engine some more and abuse the gravity assitance that the Probulator had recieved in order to bring it closer to the ecliptic and a better chance of Munar approach, at a cost of 20% of the xenon supply.
Seven days into the mission, second munar approach
occoured. Rather closer to the Mun that the previous flight, attempts were made to enter munar orbit at this point, using 25% of the craft's remaining xenon supply. Shortly after this, a cry of 'oh cock' went up from Mission Control. While the Probulator had indeed reached the same speed as the Mun as it passed it, the Probulator was in a retrograde orbit so it was passing the Mun at 1km/s.
At this point, Mission Control decided to stop flailing around uselessly and just turn the engine off to see what would happen. As it happened, the gravity assist from this 750km pass of the Mun managed to flip the entire orientation of the Probulator's orbit so that the bleeping device was now orbiting prograde, if very slowly. With a hearty cry of 'fuck it', the engine was switched back on and the Probulator began to chase the Mun.
Two days later, the Probulator was approacing the Mun once again, but this time Mission Control had a plan.
A bloody stupid plan, but a plan nonetheless.
Sadly, owing to a hiccup in flight software at this point, the craft entered into emergency lithobraking mode
. Mission Control, being undaunted and at this point just wanting to see what would happen, throttled the engine up again with a simple objective. 'Miss the Mun'.
Fuck, yeah, did it work. With brown alert lights flashing and rave airhorns blaring in Mission Control, the Probulator completed its 9km flight over the Munar surface and decelerated enough to enter a coherent Munar orbit
to the utter shock of all present.
Sadly, Science objectives for this mission failed owing to unforseen consequences. Turns out that bleeps do not propogate well through space.
And God said, let there be light.
A second mission is projected for 'as soon as we work out a better way to get there' and will hopefully include some kind of electromagnetic bleeping device.