Mun landing – rocket design

by hobbitalastair

One of my projects of late has been to land on the Mun. Landing on the Mun is reasonably challenging as there is no atmosphere, so a powered landing is required. According to my delta-v map, a Mun mission requires ~9000dV, relying on aerobraking to land back at Kerbin.

I finally broke the Mun barrier during the last two weeks – albiet with a probe.

There are two main challenges for a Mun misson; the first is getting there and back. For designing a rocket capable enough to reach the Mun, I designed a spreadsheet to help me optimize my rocket designs, and settled on a 3 stage design:

Target: The Mun

Mun misson underway

Although it is not highly visible, the rocket uses a concept called asparagus staging, which is key to letting the rocket return from the Mun. The rocket design is also fairly fragile without struts, because the last rocket stage is much shorter than the first.

The world is very blue...

My Mun capable rocket in orbit with 2 stages left.

The last stage uses LV-909 engines, which are the most efficient sort in a vacuum, partly due to their low mass.

NOTE: Since this post, the design (and my flying skills) has improved to the stage where it can reliably get to the Mun’s surface and back, with plenty of fuel to spare. See this page.