The munar capsule descends, falling now at only a dozen or so meters per second relative to the surface. Its landing gear extend, as though heroically reaching for the gray, dusty ground. Below, the ground inclines at a mild but unexpected angle, and a decision must now be made. Either close the last few hundred meters or so to touchdown and risk the possibility that the incline is sharper than it looks and could capsize the lander, or attempt a lateral maneuver to reposition the landing site — risking the loss of precious fuel and the near certainty that I will somehow misread the navball and send the entire crew pirouetting out of control and into the side of some mountain.
It wouldn’t be the first time it had happened.
This is the third munar landing attempt of the day. Let’s just say that the crew of the first two attempts shall live on as heroes in our hearts and minds. Specifically because they are not living on in any other measurable capacity.
The first Mun Monster Mk 1 — named by my nine-year-old son — did actually touch down, but the lateral movement of the craft along with, shall we say, questionable lander-design choices caused it to topple end-over-end and break apart. One lone Kerbal stepped from that wreckage onto the Mun, jetpacked around a while and then landed too hard himself. Mun Monster Mk 2 — well there’s no gentle way to put it. It crashed into the Mun.
Frankly it’s shocking that the crew of the Mk. III went anywhere near that death trap, though it does explain some of the expressions on their face during the flight.