So, it was finally time to hit the first big point of interplanetary exploration. You see, Eve, interesting as the place is, was just a test. Or something like that. Anyways, Duna is the more interesting planet. Why? Well for one it has anomalies on it that can be discovered. Also, it's much more possible to do a manned shot with a return-option to Duna than to Eve. So, starting out unmanned, I launched an orbital Deliverator with extra fuel-tanks and a landing-probe attached to it in the general direction of Duna. Not only would this allow me to land an automated probe on the planet, it would also give me something with which to help a future mission retrieve their lander from a low orbit.
The mission started with a standard heavy-duty asparagus engine, in the middle of the night so that I'd get away from the sun and more towards the orbit of our target, Duna.
|I'm missing something, aren't I?|
Indeed, I was missing something. Scientific equipment. Great deal of probing that thing would do once on Duna... Oh well, I was already well on my way transferring orbits through interplanetary space, re-launching would cost me to much time. This would have to do.
A bit (in the real world; almost half a year in in-game time) later, I reached the sphere of influence of Duna. I decided to save some fuel by aerobreaking in the planets atmosphere but overdid it by quite a bit. Setting my periapsis only ten kilometers above the surface forced me to burn fuel in the atmosphere in order to keep the entire probe from crashing. With my apoapsis falling down much to quickly, I kicked the nuclear engine into full throttle and could only hope for the best, while the ship screamed through the atmosphere on the night-side of Duna...
|Pull her up! Pull her up!|
|It was quite pretty too.|
|Look, it's Ike!|
|Right above the target. Ignore rotation and lateral movement for now...|
|Cue another round of cheers and applause in the Kerbal Space Center.|
|A useless piece of equipment, all alone on another planet...|