Pioneer 3 and 4 were early satellites designed to be lofted toward Earth's Moon. They were equipped with Geiger counters to measure radiation in space. Pioneer 3 was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on December 6, 1958.
Because of a slight error in the satellite's velocity and angle after burnout of the Juno II rocket, it did not reach the Moon; instead it achieved a peak altitude of 102,320 kilometers (63,580 miles). The satellite did, however, discover a second radiation belt around Earth during its flight. Pioneer 3 reentered Earth's atmosphere over equatorial Africa a day after launch.
Pioneer 4 was launched March 3, 1959, and successfully passed within 60,000 kilometers (37,300 miles) of the Moon the following day. The satellite was tracked for 82 hours to a distance of 655,000 kilometers (407,000 miles) from Earth, a record at that time. Pioneer 4 is now orbiting the Sun, the first U.S. spacecraft placed in solar orbit.
The Orbiter version will do a little better than get you within 60,000 kilometers like the real one achieved. The flight profile included usually will get you to within 8,000 kilometers, and sometimes, depending on the mood of your copy of Orbiter, may even impact the moon! However since installations may vary, your distance to the moon on arrival, or even impacting the moon, is not guaranteed. Just like the real thing!
||19th October 2004, 19:59:22