Ion-Powered Space Probe

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The probe as payload on top of the Z-MAP Satellite launcher on the launch pad
The probe in an orbit around Kerbin

The Ion-Powered Space Probe is a stock probe which utilizes the PB-ION Electric Propulsion System ion engine.

This probe requires a launcher, as the ion engine doesn't provide enough thrust-to-weight ratio (TWR) even to leave the ground. The Z-MAP Satellite launcher is capable of bringing this probe into orbit.

Two PB-NUK Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators, mounted on opposite sides, are its only electric generators. They are buffered by four Z-100 Rechargeable Battery Packs. As the generators aboard don't generate enough electricity and some is needed to run the command module, the ion engine can only run up to 20% of its maximum thrust. This limits the maximum force applied by the engine to about 400 N or completely dry an acceleration about 0.72 m/s². A possible modification is replacing the PB-NUKs with some solar panels.

The probe is equipped with two sensors: A 2HOT Thermometer and a Double-C Seismic Accelerometer. There is enough place on the probe-body for attaching further sensors like the GRAVMAX Negative Gravioli Detectors.


This small probe may look cute and unimpressive, but once it deploys its long-range antenna, it looks pretty much the same. Its Ion engine is very efficient for a spacecraft this small, so it can go very far indeed, as long as something helps it get into orbit first, of course.



The probe has almost 4.5 km/s of delta-V. This is enough to leave Kerbin orbit and travel anywhere in the solar system, provided the operator can be patient with its limited TWR. On small moons (all of them except for Tylo) and planets (Moho, barely, and Eeloo), the probe has enough thrust to land and take off.