My History of Spaceflight (KSP 1.2 - 1.6 Heavily Modded)

Recommended Posts

Here is my history of the spacecraft and key space infrastructure that make up my kerbal's space program as they endeavor to expand across the Kerbol system (across many different Kerbal lifetimes).

1. A Momentus Era for Kerbals (Game Three: KSP 1.2.x & 1.3.x)

This was a prodigious time for kerbal-kind. They looked up at the stars and dreamed of advancing Kerbal civilization with robust missions, permanent kerballed stations, sprawling construction shipyards, mining operations, and other infrastructure reaching to every corner of the Kerbol system.

Exclusively in Sandbox mode, ships and orbital installations from this time utilize a wide variety of mods in their construction. Specifically stock parts (Ven's Stock Revamp), everything from Nertea, Bluedog Design Bureau, a smattering of Tantares, and many other random parts mods. It features extensive usage of Tweakscale and Interstellar Fuel Switch.

2. An Alternate History of Spaceflight (Game Four: KSP 1.4.3)

Key points in history. Decisions made or not made. Technologies discovered (or not) that lead in different directions. This timeframe covers a period of unprecedented design for Kerbals, using a foundational set of technologies (Tantares) and building their space program from the ground up.

  • Completed in Sandbox, the design direction was consciously chosen in limiting part usage to specifically BDB and Tantares with a limited number of stock parts
  • Use of Tweakscale with extremely limited or not used at all
  • Favorite mods such as Stockalike Station Parts, Mk3 Expansion parts, SpaceY were excluded
  • Parts clipping was a major technique to achieve the desired form & function.
  • Introduced management of kerbal vitals for the first time using Kerbalism 

3. Earning Every Step of the Adventure (Game Five: KSP 1.4.5)

They say it means more when you earn it... Every adventure leading Kerbals to greater discovery and thus new technologies to explore and increase their scientific knowledge of the universe.

  • The challenge was to get as far as possible in a Career game using primarily stock parts with some additional mods
  • Major focus of the Career was incorporating KSP-Interstellar Extended and progressing up the tech tree
  • Parts from BDB, Tantares, and SSPRx were not utilized
  • Kerbalism incorporated from the outset
  • Tweakscale and IFS not permitted

4. New Beginnings (Game Six: KSP 1.6.x)

A new frontier awaits as the Kerbals once again start from the ground and work their way upwards towards new discoveries and unlock the secrets of the Kerbol system

  • Focus is minimal design and the most functional spacecraft possible
  • Primary usage of stock (Vens Stock Revamp) and SSPRx as well as Near Future Technologies
  • Not using Tantares and specific usage of Bluedog Design Bureau parts (primarily rockets and engines)
  • Not utilizing KSP-IE as it adds a lot of extra stuff...
  • Trying out Snacks! and Kerbal Health (since Kerbalism is having issues in 1.6) as an alternative to managing Kerbals

5. Other Interesting Content

  • Various moments in the Stories of Spaceflight mini-series such as the (mis)adventures of Helmut Von Kerman (aka Werner's "evil" twin brother) and other fun vignettes that might come up.
  • Design thoughts, various ideas, and philosophy on creating spacecraft


Edited by scottadges

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

StrutCo. presents.... Stories of Spaceflight:

The Especially Sad Tale of 'Helmut's Sorrow'

After the early successes of his twin brother Werner Von Kerman, the ambitious yet hopelessly reckless Helmut Von Kerman set out to prove who was in fact the better space engineer and undertook a secret project at the KSC. It was unofficially designated KSA-Z01 (by Helmut himself) and built around an as-yet unproven atomic engine system.

In a daring night-time launch, the KSA-Z01 was sent into the heavens with none of the safety checks or routine protocols put in place for other KSC spacecraft. This lack of safety would prove fatal to Helmut Von Kerman's dreams of atomic engines traversing the Kerbol system.


This is the only photo of the KSA-Z01, which would come to be known as 'Helmut's Sorrow', captured by long-range photo-telescopes from the Munar Hab. It features a wholly non-traditional design, including wing-like solar panels and huge extensible legs. Critics have decried it as an abomination, asking "Is it a lander? A rocket? Stuff bolted on everywhere... What the heck, Helmut?!"

Mission reports are unclear, but it seems at some point on the way towards Minmus, the KSA-Z01 experienced a significant mechanical failure with its poorly tested LH2 engine system. The sole crew member, a junior KSC pilot with no business being in the cockpit, was lucky to jettison into space before the engine burst into an uncontrolled burn.

The spacecraft careened out of Kerbin's SOI until it eventually ran out of fuel. It is currently in an eccentric orbit around Kerbol. If calculations are correct, it will appear back at Kerbin about every 2 1/2 years until the end of time...


Helmut Von Kerman is currently under investigation by KSC Security and permanently barred from the KSC, pending full inquiry into his secret project. However, he has shown himself to be quite sneaky and may find a way to restart his secret missions. Stay tuned!

Edited by scottadges

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

1. A Momentous Era for Kerbals (Game Three: KSP 1.2.x & 1.3.x)

This represents a rather prolific period of spacecraft design based around several core design strategies. The primary goal was to build up towards a Joolian mission and construct all infrastructure, stations, and ships towards that mission. You can read more in a separate thread here: My First Joolian Mission (sadly, this was a bit too ambitious and was never realized)


Kerbin Service Vehicle (KSV Mk1) - 'Spirit of Jebediah'


  • First true multi-crew spacecraft constructed and launched from the surface of Kerbin
  • First craft to orbit Kerbin, then later the first Mun mission with successful return to Kerbin

Duna Service Vehicle (DSV Mk1) - 'Valkyrie'


  • An experimental prototype for multi-crew, interplanetary missions
  • Using new design techniques and technologies, the DSV class is the basis for future 

Mission parameters and design specifics:


The specific requirements of the Duna mission factored heavily into the design of the craft. The Valkyrie will take a crew of five (2 pilots, 2 engineers, 1 scientist) to the Red Planet, land successfully for the first time, and return to Kerbin after an extended period in orbit. Each component and design choice was evaluated to ensure success in realizing this monumental achievement.

Since actually "landing and returning" is the primary focus of the mission, the spacecraft features an integrated lander that will de-orbit, land under power, and return to the Valkyrie. Purpose-built for Duna's thin atmosphere, the craft carries sufficient dV for a powered descent using new a high-efficiency engine and an integrated landing leg assembly to maximize aerodynamics. In order to take advantage of aero-braking in the almost non-existent atmosphere, the lander includes supplementary air brakes and drogue chutes. 

Other design innovations include a larger habitable area than any vessel in the fleet, a larger communications array, as well as improved propulsion and electrical systems to support the long journey. Finally, the Valkyrie will be bringing along an experimental micro-communications buoy in a specially-designed external cargo housing to leave in equatorial orbit around the planet.

Mk3-1E Shuttle - 'STS 6699 'Celine'


  • 5th-generation shuttle, all previous models "decommissioned" (aka violent re-entry, intentional or not...)
  • Cargo bay Hab Module 'Myriad' - previously a rescue hab for stranded crew of a previous mission (Mk3-1B)
  • Shuttle program designed around multi-use role with ground-based launches, orbital operations, and surface return for larger crew compliments and cargo requirements
  • At the height of the program, four (4) shuttles were in use between Kerbin and orbital facilities

Low Kerbin Orbit (LKO) Transport - 'Charon'


  • Evolved out of the successful Mk3 STS shuttle program, a new class of Mk3 orbital transport to support orbital operations
  • An experimental prototype for multi-crew, interplanetary missions

Mission parameters and design specifics:


Mission experience with the STS Mk3-E class shuttles was mixed in LKO, beyond simple orbital insertion and return to Kerbin. The Cargo Hab program was a great improvement, allowing flexibility to bring more crew to LKO and provide dockable temporary orbital stations. Rather than rely on the aging STS shuttle fleet, a next generation spacecraft was envisioned to better fit this role and support other operations throughout LKO.

The biggest limitation of the STS fleet was the actual process of docking with orbital facilities. With more engineers and crew working in LKO at the 'Foundry' manufacturing station, it was clear that greater docking efficiency was needed. In addition, transferring orbits with an STS vessel was less than precise, due to the engine configuration of the craft and RCS design shortcomings. Most importantly, the overall dV of the STS fleet was low, making it almost impossible to complete a round trip between Kerbin and the 'Delphi' Research Station (KSO) or the 'Sirius' Munar Hab.

The LKO Transport program was specifically designed around a high-dV engine profile, with enough LFO and MP to support longer missions throughout Kerbin's SOI. It also needed larger capacity to transport crew without the use of a cargo bay. Most importantly it needed to feature highly-tuned RCS thrusters and reaction wheel technologies to make orbital docking very efficient.

Innovative techniques were employed to integrate a significant amount of fuel, electrical, and other equipment within the Mk3 framework while maximizing weight distribution and overall form factor. Finally, improvements in Mk3 cockpit designs allows for a unique spacecraft design that just looks "fast". It features an impressive 1.25 TWR and over 4200m/s of dV.

Mun Lander - 'VonKerman's Pride'


  • Experimental/proof-of-concept lander with moderate refueling capabilities using compact drills & ISRUs
  • Planned as a new class of versatile, short-distance mission and transport spacecraft
  • Limitations with overall dV and time for refueling limit its effective range, but may serve as the basis of a next generation spacecraft



Orbital Manufacturing Platform - 'Foundry'


  • Significant effort to establish a large-scale orbital manufacturing platform that supports missions throughout Kerbol system with construction & infrastructure, yet serviceable from Kerbin
  • STS 6698 'Cassiopeia' (Mk3-1E Shuttle) shown docked to bring engineering crew

Orbital Facility - 'Delphi' (kerbo-stationary orbit at 2864Km)


  • Using new technologies, a major orbital expansion built in part by 'Foundry' and Kerbin-based launched
  • Designed for long-term crewed habitation, training, and scientific experimentation
  • Envisioned as a beachhead for future Duna and Joolian missions, determined less efficient than launches from 'Foundry' and Kerbin orbit
  • STS 6697 'Elliandra' (Mk3-1E Shuttle) shown docked for crew transfer from LKO

Munar Hab Mk2 - 'Werner Station'


  • Second Mun expedition, launched as permanent Hab/Refueling station
  • Originally part of Mun refueling/rescue for KSV-01 'Spirit of Jebediah'


Kerbin Science Orbiter (87Km LKO)


  • Early expedition to map Kerbin
  • Nuclear-based, ion-powered engines with decent DV
  • Prototype for other unkerbaled probes throughout the Kerbol system
Edited by scottadges
Updated October 2019

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

You make very cool stuff.  I recall "Helumth's Sorrow" from a while back.  Glad you're continuing this story.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites


Philosophy and Approach

This actually encompasses more than just KSP as I've been "designing" spaceships since I was a little kid. A few thoughts and musings on the design process.

Read more below...


I have a vivid memory of playing with a handful of Legos and intuitively creating a spaceship. That passion for Lego eventually evolved into much large SHIPs (Ex: #1, #2, #3, #4, #5). I also pored over many versions of Star Trek technical manuals when I was a kid, marvelled at blueprints of the Millenium Falcon, was fascinated by the Space Shuttle in the early 80's, and of course have watched countless-hundreds of sci-fi space shows throughout my life.

Kerbal Space Program is one of the best tools I have found to express this combination of creative and analytical thinking that drives my brain crazy. And while KSP & Lego are aspects of the same thing: working with a specific set of parts; creating something that is unique but not over-wrought; KSP allows me to take this newly created vessel for a spin around the solar system.

So, you ask, what do I mean by "pseudo-practical"? A personal philosophy, I guess, that imposes a set of realistic parameters on an inherently unrealistic creation. Designing in a way that balances in-game mechanics with a broader use case for a spacecraft. Working with symmetry and aesthetics, while balancing the inherent asymmetricality of space technologies melding together into a ship. Maintaining the internal logic of specific part choices used in specific ways within an overall visual context, that hopefully comes across as both "realistic" and creatively interesting at the same time.

I find myself constantly evaluating the aesthetic choice of a set of parts in trying to meet a certain need, then reviewing whether those parts meet the game's technical needs, then going back to adjust how they mesh visually, then back to the parts specs... until many iterations later, an actual spacecraft evolves. Then I keep looking at it, noodling with it; taking away anything that strikes me as "off" and in some cases completely re-working the craft. When I do orbital test runs, if anything jumps out at me visually, I usually re-work it. If the ship isn't meeting the technical needs of the mission, I re-work it.

This goes on until I think I can't possibly make any more changes (then I usually find 1 or 2 more...) until FINALLY, I can't stop looking at it. There's nothing that my brain says, "Wait. Change that." It's odd to use the word 'perfect', but in a sense that's what it is. My brain has gone through just about every iteration until it just seems 'right' on all facets.

There's a creative pride that comes from this iteration process. There's a sense of childlike whimsy when the thing can actually make orbit, or I can actually dock it, or the antennas extend, or the light and shadow catches it just the right way. The same feeling as when I was 6 years old making Lego ships.

"I made a ship that flies through space." 

Evolution and Next-Generation Thinking

Pretend spacecraft in a simulation game such as KSP, much like actual aircraft or other vehicles in the real world, are always finding themselves at the intersection of needs vs. capabilities. The spacecraft in this game are designed and built to function in a particular way, allowing for specific needs to be met, or actions to be completed.

Read more below...


When it becomes clear that a spacecraft's capabilities don't match up with required actions, it's time for some level of change to happen. Based on whether the craft met the original needs, this might mean a wholesale change in direction or an entirely new class of vehicle. In some cases, small upgrades to an existing design can create a big impact that ultimately satisfy the necessary improvement.

I think of this middle ground as design "evolution" rather than re/creation. As a principle, Evolution favors things that work and alters them slightly or builds off what is there to address what isn't working. Perhaps the spacecraft needs more power, but overall shape and balance was working well in the original? Maybe the placement of thrusters wasn't optimal, but moving them to a different location fixes the issue?

Ultimately, evolution makes small changes to address problems faced in the field, rather than coming up with a completely new design each time which might bring a completely different (and often unknown) set of issues.

[Add photos of KSV Mk1 and Mk2 evolution ]




Edited by scottadges

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

2. An Alternate History of Spaceflight (Game Four: KSP 1.4.3)


Edited by scottadges
Updated October 2019

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites did that quite nicely, good luck on whatever you're planning on.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

3. Earning Every Step of the Adventure (Game Five: KSP 1.4.5)


Edited by scottadges
Updated October 2019

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.