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Truman's Dream - RP0 Speedrun


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In late December, 1949, President Truman gives a historic speech, the culmination of years of diplomacy and burgeoning peace across the world.

The most famous line from that speech, goes something like this...

"We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy... but because it is the only thing we have left to do!"

And so began a race to space - an attempt to put little green men, and women, on the moon before the end of the Truman presidency, early January 1953.


The following will be my RP0 speed-run playthrough, inspired by @soundnfury's Racing into Space mod game, chronicled here 

I'll also be using @pap1723 new tech tree and contracts, still in development.  I won't be doing totally broken things, like breaking the weight limits of a pad by refueling with clamp pumps, but I do intend to push the limits here!

Should be a wild ride.

Notes and information


I'm using all recommended mods for Realism overhaul and RP0

Additionally, I'm using the following:

  • Science[x] - helps with hunt and peck science
  • Neartea's Near Future Solar, Propulsion, Construction, & Spacecraft - Parts!
  • Raidernick's US Probes, US Rockets Soviet Probes, Soviet Rocket, Soviet Spacecraft - More parts!
  • SSTU - Yet more parts!
  • Part Commander - To command all those parts, and because I always forget to action group things
  • Precise Maneuver - I like the UI for it
  • TestFlight - RO is not hard enough
  • Krash - I'm not a perfect builder, gotta test those launches

I'm playing on moderate settings.  I will only be reverting for clear bugs, Agathorn will hold sway.    


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Day 1 00:00Z First Contract

So, 15,000 and 16 upgrade points to spend, and our first contract - first launch. 

I put all 16 in VAB construction.  We're going to need good construction to upgrade our pad and Science Center, and this will be less wasted money on build acceleration.  Plus with this new config, we only get + .05 science per year per 10,000 - science investment will be a long term endeavor.  Already our plans are in jeopardy.

Worldwide peace means we're going to switch to Kourou for the obvious near-equatorial launch benefits, and build our first rocket - the Popoto 1.

Unlike most early sounding rockets, the Popoto is designed for full reuse - with the quick Aerobee spool-up time, we don't even need a launch clamp (other than for physics bugs on the pad)

Looking at the lower assembly, our engineers have chosen to go with cone-shaped drag bodies rather than wings - we don't have any wings that will survive the temperatures of reentry.  Knowing our early engines are very unreliable, we've also canted them to point through the initial center of mass - giving us a chance to recover a failure.  And of course, they're also tilted to provide spin stabilization

At 57,330, and a nominal recoverable apoapsis of >300k, the Popoto is a bargain.  We spend another 470,000 rush building it - all hands on deck! - to have it ready in 140 minutes.  We want our first science points asap.

Edited by Maxsimal
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Day 1 02:15Z - First Launch

Our first Popoto flight goes without a hitch - other than some reloading to deal with pad physics bugs.  After a firey ascent...

we decide to cut thrust at 155km apoapsis and drain the rest of the fuel - no need to push things.  

We land a couple kilometers into the jungle, giving us shores and tropics science on this launch - quite a haul - 45 science total.  

Meanwhile, we have our second craft already on the assembly line...

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Day 1 3:18Z

While Popoto 1 is recovering, we take our next two contracts - Karman Line, and Break the Sound Barrier(Crewed).  With the funds from these advances, we start construction of the level 2 (60 ton) Landing pad, and spend 44 of our science unlocking a wealth of nodes - mostly for the upgrade points they'll grant.  

Meanwhile, for a cost of $424,000 and another ~2,500,000 to rush build it and complete it in time to launch on our first day, we have the Bottlenose 1, our first suborbital manned spacecraft.

Bottlenose is a tailsitter design - the A-4's fast spool up and high TWR will give us control before it can tip, so again, no clamp.  It's not QUITE fully reusable, as the nose cone fairing must be ditched to expose 8 aerobee engines - enough redundancy to make sure we can comfortably lose 2, or even 3 of them and still slow down on reentry and not overheat the fragile cockpit and wings.  Also they are angled to center-of mass (with the emptied A-4 tank) so a failure doesn't destablize the craft.  Chute design means it will land horizontally for a nice cushy landing - necessary after we put our pilot through a transient 9G's before cutoff.   This should put our valiant first astronaut into space - for about a minute- and let us quickly finish our first two manned contracts unless something catastrophic happens.

Edited by Maxsimal
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Day 1 4:30Z - Shipping out

We refuel, recertify, and relaunch our recovered Popoto 1.  We have a clean launch, other than the fact that the recovered rocket's engines were stuck active - takeoff happens immediately.  Hopefully that's just a fluke - make have to see if I can mess with the staging to fix that.  Despite an engine performance loss, we complete our Karman line contract, and pick up a little more science as the rocket wanders off for a water landing.  This gives us another tech, and quite a bit more money - up to $65 million now.  

For our next trick, we have a B-47 on standby that take the recovered Popoto 1 to the White Sand testing range - this will give us mountain science.  Recovery time is 8 and half hours - close to bang on time for the 450mph cruise speed of the big jet bomber for a flight from Kourou, but the ground crews must have really been hopping.  Rollout will take another 6 hours as the rocket is rechecked after its long trip.

We also take the next contract 'Reach a suborbital trajectory and return' which we've already managed but the bean counting accountants weren't watching the first time

Day 1 16:25Z - First Woman in Space

Bottlenose 1 completes:  Joyce Diaz will be our first pilot in space, after another fiery flight in the stratosphere

reorienting for retro-burn

and heading in for a beautiful touchdown on our well-balanced chutes (make sure to remove fuel before you place the equidistant from your empty center of mass)

Bottlenose 1 will be recovered, its fairings reattached, and reflown for our next manned contract (X-planes high) shortly.

 In the meanwhile we start construction on a higher lofting, non-reusable but still quite cheap sounding rocket to get our first sounding rocket (medium) contract done, the White Beak 1 - we rush build it for a total cost of ~$350,000 dollars.


However, the best news is that we've gotten enough cash (Over 140million dollars!) now to start both our R&D & mission control building upgrading, as well as enough science to unlock 2 more nodes.  We're poor once more.  To help with that, we start a 25% fundraising campaign

Edited by Maxsimal
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Day 1 19:05Z - Wrapping up our first successful day

We  launch our White Beak 1 sounding rocket, giving us more records and our medium sound rocket (330km).  We actually get an apogee of almost 700km.  

Popoto 1 rolls out in Whitesands - but in the rush, they've failed to refuel the rocket (oops!). Rollback, refuel, and rollout will take 16 hours.  Fortunately Popoto 2 is in manufacture back at Kourou, again heavily sped up to be delivered today.

We launch Bottlenose 1 once more for X-planes high, Bottlenose 1 flies well, and we get some new science from crew reports over the tropics.  We also queue up Bottlenose 2B, a stretched Bottlenose 1 with biological  samples aboard.  We accelerate it some, but only for a 24 hour construction time.  

Bottlenose 1 loses 2! of its WAC engines, but the other 6 slow it down enough to be recovered safely, touching down in the jungle.  After pulling it out of the tree canopy, we load it up and ship it off to Kodiak, Alaska, for some cold weather tests (and Pole science).  Since Joyce will be globe-hopping with it, we hire Ivan Lyashin comes out of training as our primary Kourou pilot.

Finally, to wrap up our first day of space flight, we launch and recover Popoto 2.  No new science, but a successful suborbital recovery for that contract, and we ship it off to Woomera.  Hopefully the Aussies will remember to refuel it before they try a launch.

End of Day 1 stats

  • Contracts Completed: 6
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 16
  • VAB Build Rate: 1.25 Bp/s
  • R&R Research Rate: 8.9 sci/year
  • Remaining Funds: 24,304


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Week 1 - Biosurvey of the Amazon

So, my plan to fly my rockets around to various launch sites and gather more science runs into a snag with KCT, as the craft's state isn't properly reset for some reason, so it's stuck in the 'launchpad' biome.    Instead I build White-beaks at the relevant locations, with sensor packages.  Even with some rush building, those won't be here for 18 days, but a lot of medium sounding rocket contracts will be done once they're here.

Instead, we start pogoing Bottlenose 2B at Kourou.  Our first flight takes it up to 200km for some new records and biological sample science, and a nice contract reward for X-planes high.  But that feels a bit high, we had flames coming off the wingips on reentry into the stratosphere, so we'll keep it to 150km from now.

While that's happening, we build the following monstrosity "White Beak-Beluga Cavier"  to try to hit a 5200km sounding rocket(high) contract.  It was going to be White Beak-Beluga, but a 3 stage rocket would only hit 4kkm, so this 4stage one is the way we go.  It has a total of 15 WAC (1-4-10) engines and 1 A-4.  Only the last WAC stage is a full burn so there is some redundancy with all those WAC's to account for failures.


Note: I'm doing dolphins for upper stages and whales for lower stages.  Possibly other sea mammals for probes?  We'll see.

My 3rd Bottlenose 2B launch almost kills the pilot when the A4 cuts out after 5 seconds.  Chutes deploy and fuel is vented, but it was a very close run thing, and I decide to upgrade it with a mini-escape system, an abort that will cut off the A4 and tank and deploy the canopy chute in emergencies, the new Bottlenose 3B.

Bottlenose 3B's fourth flight completes my crewed Karman line contract - for some reason I hadn't seen it before, which is another nice chunk of change, which we immediately drop into upgrading our R&D speed.  That'll be it for manned flights for a bit - even I'm not insane enough to keep grinding those contracts.  We take the First satellite contract for the huge advance and more more money into upgrades, but now keeping a bit of reserve for unlocks.

White Beak- Beluga Cavier loses an engine in the 10-WAC stage, but still manages to get to 5.3kkm despite a little bit of instability induced precession.  This gives us the last of the height records and the 5000m/s speed record.

End of week 1 stats:

  • Contracts Completed: 10
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 17
  • VAB Build Rate: 1.7 Bp/s
  • R&R Research Rate: .151 sci/day / 55 science per year
  • Remaining Funds: 29,888
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Week 2 - Our first new tech, and some in-flight testing

10 days, 17 hours in and we have Post-war Rocketry!  Just as we wrapped  up on maxing out our A-4 data, we're going to upgrade to the A-9.  We also get the fantastic XASR-1.  Our engineers, ever the frightening optimists, judge that this is just enough to attempt our first orbital insertion.  The design for our first orbital craft is the White Beak-Pilot, a modified Whitebeak upper stage with a total of 5 XASR-1's, and an A-9 lower, with 6 WAC's strapped on for some insurance delta-v.  This will also be our first use of @leudaimon 's procedural avionic system - a great boon to our penny-pinching engineers.

However, with the terrible failure rate an unresearched A-9 will give us, and the fact that we need data fast, I decide on building a reusable engine test prototype to get some fast A-9 & XASR data.  Thus the Pilot Trainer, below, which uses the Bottlenose's 'retrofire and pray' system of decent.  Both are twice as expensive as anything built before, and giving our low data on the engines, I queue up two pilot-trainers.


Our first Pilot Trainer flight, I go for a shallow angle so as not to overheat during reentry, but end up a bit *too* shallow, and kill the engine early so as not to lose wings. Good data was still gained.

Two subsequent test flights are less eventful, and we get to ~4500 du on all our engines.  Shame tech transfer of data units is not working so well or this expensive process would not have been necessary.

In other news, we also sort out the bug with transferring ships around, and start gathering more sience from White Sands, Woomera, and Kodiak, unfortunately our popoto's were scrapped, but we get some crew reports from Bottlenoses, as well as incidental X-planes (high) contracts..  One White Beak-Beluga Cavier is launched to complete a pair of contracts as well.

Next week - our first satellite! (I hope)

End of week 1 stats:

  • Contracts Completed: 16
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 20
  • VAB Build Rate: 1.9 Bp/s
  • R&R Research Rate: .155 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 34550
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Week 3 - In Orbit!  & Planning for the future

It took two tries, but our space program reached orbit on Day 17.  

Day 15's attempt was mostly good, but we had a bit of a miscalculation with HTP which stole 200m/s from our first stage, and that left little time to align the kick stage properly, resulting in a  1.7kkm by 122km orbit - just shy of what we needed.




Our second attempt, with an editted fuel tank and perfectly pitched kick stage, achieved an astounding 2.5kkm x 169km orbit.  Also a night launch unfortunately

That gave us another good chunk of cash, amplified by our fund raising strategy.  We pour it into more R&D speed.

Now's a good time to take stock of what we'll need, at the minimum, for our moon mission, science-wise.

Absolute Requirements:

  • Basic Capsules -  W/prereques, this comes to 152 science :Obvious why
  • Early Avionics and Probes - 21 points  w/prereqs : Unreasonable to launch enough mass without
  • 1956-1957 Engines - 13 points w/prereqs : Ditto

Near Necessities:  Without these we'd need a ridiculous amount of shenanigans, like landing on the moon with just huge #'s of RCS, or a huge single 

  • 1961 Orbital Rocketry -  88 w/prereqs not included above : First unlimited ignition engine - We'd need to suicide land otherwise (and/or use large amounts of RCS thrusters)

Good to Have:

  • Lunar Rated Heatshields - 124 w/prereqs not included above : We could slow down with retroburn, but this cuts our total TLO mass requirement a lot
  • Improved Flight Control- 130 w/prereqs not included above : The first docking port.  We need these, or a huge pad limit. 
  • Early Power Gen. and Storage: 47 w/prereqs not included above : To not have to haul craploads of batteries

So it seems that we'll need a total of at least 186 science researched, probably another 88 to 301 to make it reasonable.  At our current rate, we'll have 140 research done in 2 years - not nearly enough!  Plus we need a lot more science.

So we'll have to pile up a lot more cash  - unfortunately, until we tech up, there aren't a lot of good sources for it.  The rewards for the next couple of satellite missions aren't worth the effort to do them without a more reliable orbit rocket, we're better of grinding sounding rockets.  (I'm still not going to pogo-launch x-plane missions).

So over the coming weeks& months, our plan is:

  1. Get better avionics, so we can do real satellite contracts
  2. Get enough cash to keep upgrading the launchpad,
  3. Improve our lift capacity, for more reasonable throw weights

We end the week with:

  • Contracts Completed: 17
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 21
  • Science Nodes Researched: 1
  • VAB Build Rate: 1.9 Bp/s
  • R&D Research Rate: .221 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 19050


Edited by Maxsimal
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End of January, Feb 1951 - 5 weeks of sounding rockets

After the flurry of activity at the beginning of the project, things slow down a bit.  We launch numerous sounding rockets, and also develop a Bottlenose that uses a A-9 engine to do suborbital contracts, which were just re-enabled, doing 4 of those to get some extra cash.

Notable Events:

We develop the following techs:

  • Postwar Avionics
  • Early Avionices

On 1/25, we start building the tracking station - frankly we should have started this earlier.

On 2/11, our first landing pad upgrade completes, and we immediately start another.

We launch some White Beak's with sensor packages in Alaska, Australia, New Mexico, Virginia and Iran, collecting the last of the Earth atmospheric and low-space science we have access to - we'll need more science instruments, but it's not a priority as we have a HUGE backlog of tech to churn through.

Overall, we complete a total of 31 more contracts, unlock 2 more science nodes

  • Contracts Completed: 48
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 23
  • Science Nodes Researched: 3
  • VAB Build Rate: 2.15 Bp/s
  • R&D Research Rate: .238 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 7140

March will hopefully prove more interesting.

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March 1951 - Yet More Sounding Rockets

On 3/1, we get mission control, which lets us take the advances for Lunar Orbit, Lunar Flyby, and Lunar Impact  - more money than we made from all those sounding rocket contracts all February.

We pick up Early Avionics and Probes on March 5th, giving us access to the first upper stage avionics, as well as the fantastic explorer probe, much lighter than the 60 kilo sounding rocket rings we have been using.

However, we still need solar panels to really progress into satellite contracts.  We'll prep a couple orbiters to attach those solar panels too, but that's about all we can do - March is going to be another slow month, so we keep launching our sounding rockets, and prepare for fun in April.  The biggest problem this month is keeping our engineers awake to stage the rockets at the right time.

We end with

  • Contracts Completed: 80
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 23
  • Science Nodes Researched: 3
  • VAB Build Rate: 2.45 Bp/s
  • R&D Research Rate: .308 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 64472 - we'll be upgrading our launchpad again soon
Edited by Maxsimal
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April 1951 - Back to Orbit, Finally

On 4/6, we get our new launchpad - we're up to 150tons, though no boosters we own are nearly large enough to make that a manageable launch weight. 

On 4/8 we finally get Satellite Era Electronics, for the first set of solar cells, which finally will get us past the "First Solar Powered Satellite" gate.  To complete this and "First Polar Satellite" we build the following craft - at 800ish funds for a 10,000+ dv low tech rocket, our penny pinching engineers are pretty proud of themselves.  

Here is Spinner-Beluga 1, an A-4 powered booster with a guided 4 XASR sage and a 1 XASR kick stage that puts an explorer probe into an orbit.  Because of the unavoidably high TWR's of the first stages, it tends to put the pre-kick stage apoapsis at >300km, giving lots of time to establish a good kick pitch angle and spin up on RCS, as well as maintaining line of site to the mission control dishes



4/12 With this, we take "First Polar Satellite" and "First Solar Powered Satellite" and some sounding rocket contracts, and hope for the best.

Which we manage, with a 3mm x 460km orbit.

Next we try to complete atmospheric analysis and Sun-Synchronous.  Because Sun Synchronous requires such a low-eccentricity orbit, we modify Spinner-Beluga with a longer kick stage, hoping to hit the right eccentricity while still at a relatively low acceleration.

4/14 First attempt is *just* shy of the mark, at .049 eccentricity.  We finish the atmosphere scan contract and prep another rocket.  We also finish Early Rocketry and move on to Basic Rocketry

4/17 Second attempt - managed to get the Sun-Synchronous contract.  Next we start work on putting our first com sat up.  We still don't have good boosters, so we go with this multi-stage monstrosity



4/21 - The Spinner-Beluga heavy actually puts up the commsat on the first try!  Shocking, given how many A-4's it was dependent on.  



Edited by Maxsimal
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April 1951 - Back to Orbit, Cont.

Several more great things happen for us in April.

First, after completing that first comm sat contract, we get access to the Comm Sat 3 and Comm Sat 4 contracts - neither of which we can plausibly do, but the advance will more than cover our next upcoming R&D center upgrade.

We also complete several more techs - although I stupidly chose to complete rocket techs when I could have gone down material science first.  1956-1957 Orbital Rocketry is our goal, but we could have had Default tanks sooner.

We also build our first rocket with terminal-guidance for the last stage to try and complete the Early Weather satellite contract - which requires an eccentricity of 0.005 so our spin-stabilization final stages won't ever work.  Enter Vaquita-Beluga Heavy. Procedural Avionics is amazing here - possibly too amazing.  Having a 3T avionics unit that weighs only 55kg and uses 110Watts - for $134?  Pretty awesome.





Our first launch to try putting up a weather sat is a near total disaster, as we lose a booster less than 600 meters of the pad.  Fortunately the part commander mod lets me find the avionics unit it and range safety the rocket before we crash back on the pad since I forgot the hot key for that.




3 days later, though, we succeed.

Unfortunately, May isn't looking like it'll be a fun month - none of the contracts available can be done anymore with my current lift capacity, not without trying to strap together 10 A4's and having a hideously low reliability.  Still, the moon feels more and more in reach, as we've gotten another big bump to our research rate, and soon, soon we'll have the engines we'll need.

  • Contracts Completed: >100
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 23
  • Science Nodes Researched: 8
  • VAB Build Rate: 2.5 Bp/s
  • R&D Research Rate: .377 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 96060 - we'll be upgrading R&D soon


Edited by Maxsimal
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May 1951 - Another month of sounding rockets

As expected, may provides nothing interesting, only two things happen of note.

First, the first R&D center upgrade completes - giving us 25% more R&D speed.  The next upgrade is too expensive so we'll be saving up for a bit more to purchase it.

2nd, Early satellite materials science completes - this gives balloon tanks, but we're FAR too cheap to use these for normal launches. This also gives 3m tanks/fairings/decouplers - which will be great, but first we need engines that will make those new sizes worthwhile.  

So, we launch sounding contracts, save money for a new R&D upgrade, and looking forward to a special day sometime in June...

  • Contracts Completed: >140
  • Science Nodes Unlocked: 24
  • Science Nodes Researched: 10
  • VAB Build Rate: 2.5 Bp/s
  • R&D Research Rate: .508 sci/day 
  • Remaining Funds: 156100
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  • 4 weeks later...

I really wanted to continue this, but the development version of RP0 is changing dramatically - partially based on this play through actually.

However, I did play the next month - I'll give a quick summary.

On June 8th, I unlocked the RD-108/RD107, and the LR105.  This let me do SO much more. 

By the end of the month, I'd do the lunar orbiter/flyby/impact contracts, finishing all the multiples, as well as a Molniya, and early test sat contract, which was a huge amount of cash.  I also was about to launch the 4x Comm sat contract.  More than 1 million in funds total this month, which let me work on the final Reseach building I'd need, as well as more upgrades for the launchpad and also the VAB, plus almost 5.0 BP/s in build speed.

July was going to be a flood of commsat launches which would have greatly accelerated my research growth, likely up 1 RP per day.

I estimate that I would have been able to do a manned moon landing by the end of 1951, with enough comm sat grinding.  

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