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The Space Program With No Name (updated Jan 12, 2019)

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To satisfy their unceasing desire to launch themselves into the void of space on top questionable rockets, the kerbals rushed to form a space program. But in their haste to get started on this great endeavour, they forgot* to give it a name. Thus, it became known only as "the space program".

 *) I was too lazy to come up with one.




This is a career I started in KSP 1.3.1 (later updated to 1.4.5) about a month ago, and that I thought I'd share here. I'm using a heap of mods (list in the spoiler below), with MKS and USI-LS being two of the main ones. It's my first time using these in a career playthrough. I'm not sure to what extent I'll use the kolonization parts, but life support will play a big role. Running out of supplies will lead to death, and death is permanent. I'm also sticking somewhat rigidly to the rule of no reloads. The presentation style will most likely be short descriptions of events, accompanied by lots of pictures, 'cause who doesn't like pictures. :)

Hope you enjoy!




Airplane Plus
Alcubierre Warp Drive
AlphaMensae's Modular Launch Pads
AT Utils
Atmosphere Autopilot
Aviation Lights
B9 Aerospace Procedural Wings
B9 Part Switch
Blast Awesomeness Modifier
Bon Voyage
Click Through Blocker
Community Category Kit
Community Resource Pack
Community Tech Tree
Community Terrain Texture Pack
Community Trait Icons
Configurable Containers Core
Contract Configurator
Contract Pack: Bases and Stations
Contract Pack: Clever Sats
Contract Pack: Field Research
Contract Pack: Tourism Plus
Corvus CF
Cryogenic Engines
Cryogenic Tanks
Custom Barn Kit
DaMichel's Spherical Tanks
DarkSide Technology Continued
Deployable Engines Plugin
Distant Object Enhancement
Distant Object Enhancement default config
Diverse Kerbal Heads
DMagic Orbital Science
Docking Port Alignment Indicator
Dynamic Battery Storage
Easy Vessel Switch
Environmental Visual Enhancements
EVA Parachutes & Ejection Seats
FASA LaunchClampsContinued
Feline Utility Rovers
Firespitter Core
Firespitter Resource config
FTL Drive Continued
Fuel Tank Expansion Rebuilt
Fuel Tanks Plus
Global Construction Core
Hangar Extender
Heat Control
Kerbal Alarm Clock
Kerbal Atomics
Kerbal Attachment System
Kerbal Construction Time
Kerbal Dust Experiment
Kerbal Engineer Redux
Kerbal Inventory System
Kerbal Joint Reinforcement Continued
Kerbal NRAP - Procedural Test Weights
Kerbal Planetary Base Systems
Kerbal Reusability Expansion
Kerbal Science Innovation
KerbalRover Off-Road Vehicles
Kopernicus Planetary System Modifier
Kronal Vessel Viewer Continued
KW Rocketry Rebalanced
Launch Escape System
Lithobrake Exploration Technologies
Malemute Rover
Mark IV Spaceplane System
Ministry of Space Aeronautic Department
Mkerb Inc. Science Instruments
Modular Rocket Systems
Module Manager
Near Future Construction
Near Future Electrical
Near Future Electrical Core
Near Future Electrical Extras: Decaying RTGs Patch
Near Future IVA Props
Near Future Launch Vehicles
Near Future Propulsion
Near Future Solar
Near Future Solar Core
Near Future Spacecraft
NEBULA Decals Continued
Nehemiah Engineering Orbital Science
New Tantares
New TantaresLV
OSE Workshop Continued
Outer Planets Mod
PlanetShine - Default configuration
Portrait Stats
Precise Maneuver
Procedural Fairings
Procedural Parts
> Blackheart612's Procedural Part Textures
> Derivative Textures
> Freedom Textures
> Hazard Tanks Textures
> MainSailor's Complete Texture Pack
> MainSailor's Essential Textures and Flag
> Saturn/Nova Texture Pack
> Ven's Revamp Style Textures
Project Orion Nuclear Pulse Engine
RasterPropMonitor Core
RealChute Parachute Systems
Real Plume
Real Plume - Stock Configs
Reentry Particle Effect
RLA Reborn
Scart91 Texture Pack
scatterer - default config
Sensible Screenshot
Simple Female Kerbals
SmokeScreen - Extended FX Plugin
Solar Science
Sounding Rockets
SpaceY Expanded
Spacey Heavy Lifters
Station Science Continued
Stock Visual Enhancements
Stock Visual Enhancements-High Res Textures
Stock Visal Terrain
Stockalike Mining Extension
Stockalike Station Parts Expansion Redux
Surface Experiment Pack
Surface Mounted Lights
TD Industries RCS and Hypergolic engines
Tokamak Refurbished Parts
Toolbar Controller
Tracking Station Evolved
Transfer Window Planner
TweakScale - Rescale Everything
Universal Storage II
USI Asteroid Recycling Technologies
USI Core
USI Exploration Pack
USI Freight Transport Technologies
USI Kolonization Systems (MKS/OKS)
USI Life Support
USI Tools
Waypoint Manager
Wheels Collection (formerly rollkage & better wheels)



This log is updated at the end of each in-game year.

Venture Test 2 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 4 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 5 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 6A Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 6B Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
SCAR-1 Velocity I Kerbin orbit   Failure Improperly installed guidance system caused rocket to crash.
SCAR-2 Velocity I Kerbin orbit   Success First probe in orbit.
SCAR-3 Velocity I Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 1 Velocity II Kerbin orbit   Success First flight of Venture Block 1 spacecraft.
Venture 2 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Jebediah Success First kerbonaut in space.
Venture 3 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Bill Success  
Venture 4 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Bob Success First rendezvous in space (with Venture 5).
Venture 5 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Valentina Success First rendezvous in space (with Venture 4).
Venture 6 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Phoebe Failure Loss of thrust in one engine forced crew to abort flight.
SCAR-4 Velocity I Mun flyby   Success First probe to fly by the Mun.
Venture 6A Velocity II Kerbin orbit Phoebe Success Last flight of Venture Block 1 spacecraft.
Venture Test 7 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 8 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture Test 9 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture 7 Velocity II Kerbin orbit   Success First flight of Venture Block 2 spacecraft.
Venture 8 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Bob, Wehrsted Success  
Mapper 1 Velocity I Kerbin polar orbit   Success  
VTV-1 Velocity I Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 9 Velocity II VTV-1 Valentina, Thompdous Success First docking in space.
Venture 10 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Bill, Verfal (launch) Success First crew exchange via EVA (with Venture 11).
Venture 11 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Jebediah, Verfal (return) Success First crew exchange via EVA (with Venture 10).
Venture 12 Velocity II Kerbin orbit Phoebe, Tito Success First tourist in space.
SCAR-5 Velocity I Minmus flyby   Partial failure Not enough dV to reach Minmus. Return capsule ditched to salvage mission.
Emprise Velocity II Kerbin orbit   Success First space station.
Venture 13 Velocity II+ Emprise   Success First and only use of Velocity II+. Launch vehicle lacked expected thrust.
Venture 14 Velocity II Emprise Valentina, Buzz Success  
Mapper 2 Velocity I Kerbin polar orbit   Failure Misaligned solar panels caused batteries to drain.
Venture 15 Velocity II Emprise Jebediah, Jorby Success  
Quest 1 Velocity II Emprise   Failure Crashed due to a turbopump failure.
Quest 2 Velocity II Emprise   Success Delivered supplies and fuel to Emprise station.
Mapper 3 Velocity I Kerbin polar orbit   Success  
Venture 16 Velocity II Emprise Bob, Ferny Success  
Venture 17 Velocity III Emprise   Success  
Muna 1 Velocity I Mun orbit   Failure First probe in Munar orbit. Misaligned solar panels caused batteries to drain.
Muna 2 Velocity I Mun orbit   Success  
Palantir Mun Velocity III Mun polar orbit   Success  
Venture 18 Velocity III Emprise Phoebe, Gersen Success Last mission to Emprise station.
Mapper 4 Velocity I Mun polar orbit   Success  
Muna 3 Velocity IV Mun surface   Failure Leaking fuel valve drained the lander's tanks, causing it to crash.
Muna 4 Velocity IV Mun surface   Failure Crashed after using too much fuel during early descent.
Muna 5 Velocity IV Mun surface   Success First successful soft landing on the Mun. Landed in East Crater.
Emprise   Deorbit   Success Space station deorbited using onboard engines.
Muna 6 Velocity V Mun surface   Success Landed in Midlands.
Muna 7 Velocity IV Mun surface   Success Landed in Highlands.
Muna 8 Velocity V Mun orbit   Success  
Palantir Kerbin Velocity III Kerbin polar orbit   Success  
SET-1 Velocity I Kerbin orbit   Success  
Muna 9 Velocity IV Mun surface   Success First sample return mission. Landed in East Crater.
Venture 19 Velocity IV Kerbin orbit Valentina, Buzz Success First flight of Venture Block 3.
SET-4 Velocity V Kerbin suborbital   Success  
SET-5 Velocity VA Mun flyby   Success  
Muna 10 Velocity IV Mun surface   Success Sample return mission. Landed in Highlands.
Test Flight SilverDart Kerbin atmosphere Verfal, Ferny Success First circumglobal flight.
Relayer 1/2 Velocity III Mun polar orbit   Failure Stranded in low Kerbin orbit due to design flaws.
Venture 20 Velocity IV Mun flyby Jebediah, Bill Success First crew to fly by the Mun.
Venture 21 Velocity IV Mun orbit Phoebe, Ferny Success First crew in orbit around the Mun. First EVA in munar orbit. Last flight of Venture Block 3.
Venture 22 Velocity III Kerbin orbit Thompdous, Buzz Failure Excessive pitch during launch forced crew to abort flight.
Relayer 1A/2A Velocity III Mun polar orbit   Partial failure Transfer stage exploded on release of Relayer 2A, damaging the satellite's solar panels.
Muna 11 Velocity IV Mun surface   Success Sample return mission. Landed at South Pole.
SET-6 Celerity Kerbin orbit   Success  
SET-7 Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Failure Test of launch escape system. Fairing panels crashed into vessel and destroyed it.
SET-7A Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Success  
SET-7B Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Success  
SET-8 Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Venture 23 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit   Success First flight of Venture Block 4.
MLV-1 Velocity IV Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 24 Benchmark I MLV-1/Mun orbit Verfal, Gersen Success Test of Munar Landing Vehicle in orbit around the Mun.
Emprise II Celerity Kerbin orbit   Success First modular space station.
MLV-2 Velocity IV Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 25 Benchmark I MLV-2/Mun surface Valentina, Janson Success First kerbonaut to land on the Mun.
Venture 26 Velocity IIIA Emprise II Wehrsted, Desster Failure Leaking fuel tank caused rocket to spin out of control one minute into flight.
Venture 27 Benchmark I Emprise II Albart, Buzz Success Expedition 1. Set new record for time spent in orbit (30 days).
Relayer 3/Mapper 5 Velocity IIIA Minmus polar orbit   Failure Clogged fuel line caused rocket to crash.
Quest 3 Velocity IIIA Emprise II   Success First flight of Quest Block 2A.
Venture 28 Benchmark I Emprise II Wehrsted, Desster Success Expedition 2.
Relayer 3A/Mapper 5A Velocity III Minmus polar orbit   Success  
SET-10 Velocity IV Minmus orbit   Partial failure Three landers, carried as part of the payload, failed because of a design flaw.
Quest 4 Velocity IIIA Emprise II   Success  
Venture 29 Benchmark I Emprise II Thompdous, Katbus Success Expedition 3.
Venture 30 Velocity IIIA Kerbin orbit   Failure Final flight of Venture Block 2. Booster separation pyros punctured main fuel tank.
MLV-3 Velocity IV Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 31 Benchmark I MLV-3/Mun surface Jebediah, Lisa (launch), Sonny (return) Success Mission objectives changed to rescue stranded kerbonaut in munar orbit.
Venture 32 Benchmark I Emprise II Phoebe, Lisa (return) Success  
Quest 5 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success Last flight of Quest Block 2A.
E2 Node 1 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success First use of Shepard orbital tug.
E2 Node 2 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
E2 Module 2 Celerity Emprise II   Success  
Quest 6 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success First flight of Quest Block 2B.
Venture 33 Benchmark I Emprise II Bill, Gratop Success Expedition 4. Set new record for time spent in orbit (50 days).
Mapper 6/Muna 12 Velocity II Minmus polar/Mun flyby   Success  
SET-12 Leapfrog Kerbin suborbital   Success  
MLV-4 Velocity IV Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 34 Benchmark I MLV-4/Mun surface Bob, Stary Success Landed in East Farside Crater.
Quest 7 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
Venture 35 Benchmark I Emprise II Jebediah, Seepond Success Expedition 5. Mission cut short due to the SilverDagger tragedy.
E2 Truss Base Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
Test Flight SilverDagger Kerbin atmosphere Sonny, Tandin (KIA) Failure Crashed during landing. Sonny managed to eject but Tandin was killed.
Nomad 1 Velocity II Minmus surface   Success First Minmus landing. First robotic rover. Visited Great Flats, Lowlands and Midlands.
Quest 8 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
Venture 36 Benchmark I Emprise II Verfal, Ferny Success Expedition 6. Set new record for time spent in orbit (307 days).
Quest 9 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
E2 Truss Sections Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
SET-14 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit   Success  
Quest 10 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success Last flight of Quest Block 2B.
Quest 11 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success First flight of Quest Block 3.
SET-15 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit   Success  
GRUNT 1 Velocity IV Mun orbit   Success Brought back debris from munar orbit to Kerbin.
GRUNT 2 Velocity IV Mun orbit   Success Brought back debris from munar orbit to Kerbin.
Quest 12 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
E2 Storage Module Celerity Emprise II   Partial failure Fairing panels collided with payload, badly damaging it. Reached orbit.
E2 Storage Module Celerity Emprise II   Success  
SET-16 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit   Partial failure Faulty wiring caused upper stage to detach early. Spacecraft flew suborbital test.
SET-19 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit   Success  
Venture 37 Benchmark I Kerbin orbit Albart, Katbus Success Repaired damaged space station module in orbit.
E2 New Core Celerity Emprise II   Failure A sensor installed upside down caused the rocket to crash.
E2 New Core Celerity Emprise II   Success  
Venture 38 Benchmark I Emprise II Katbus (launch), Janson (launch) Partial failure Expedition 7. Set new record for time spent in orbit (420 days). Last flight of Venture Block 4. Spacecraft returned empty due to problems with parachutes.
Venture T-1 Benchmark I Emprise II Valentina Success First flight of Venture T.
Venture T-2 Benchmark I Emprise II Phoebe (launch), Jenory (launch) Partial failure Spacecraft returned empty due to problems with parachutes.
Venture T-3 Benchmark I Emprise II Phoebe (return), Jenory (return) Success Replaced Venture T-2.
Venture T-4 Benchmark I Emprise II Katbus (return), Janson (return) Success Replaced Venture 38.
E2 Life Support Module Celerity Emprise II   Success  
Peabody Flight 1 PBLV XS 1 Sonny Partial failure First flight of Peabody. Overshot KSC on return and made emergency landing in ocean.
Venture T-5 Benchmark I XS 1 Valentina, Desster Success  
SET-29 Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Success  
SET-30 Leapfrog II Kerbin suborbital   Success  
Endeavour 1 Velocity IV Kerbin suborbital   Success First flight of Endeavour.
Peabody Flight 2 PBLV Kerbin orbit Sonny Success  
Venture T-6 Benchmark I Emprise II Bob, Gersen Success Expedition 8. First hand-over of command of the station.
Quest 13 Benchmark I Emprise II   Success  
Mapper 7 Benchmark IA Kerbin polar orbit   Success  
Mapper 8 Benchmark IA Mun polar orbit   Success  
Peabody Flight 3 PBLV Kerbin orbit Sonny Success  
Venture TM-1 Benchmark IA Emprise II Wehrsted, Tatiana Success First flight of Venture TM.
Relayer Mu-A/B/C Benchmark IA Mun polar orbit   Success  
Venture T-7 Benchmark I XS1 Thompdous, Gratop Success  
Mapper 9 Benchmark IA Minmus polar orbit   Success  
Venture T-8 Benchmark I Emprise II Stary, Lembas Success Last flight of Venture T.
E2 Hab Module 1 Benchmark IA Emprise II   Success  
E2 Hab Module 2 Benchmark IA Emprise II   Success  
Quest 14 Benchmark IA Emprise II   Success  
Venture TM-2 Benchmark IA Mun orbit Thompdous, Gratop Success Stayed in munar orbit for 15 days.
Venture TM-3 Benchmark IA Emprise II Seepond, Jopont Success  
Quest 15 Benchmark IA Emprise II   Success  
Venture TM-4/MLV-5 Velocity E1 Mun surface Jebediah, Lisa Partial failure Lack of fuel forced Jeb to bail out of the lander after takeoff from the Mun. He was rescued from suborbital flight by Lisa in Venture TM-4.
Peabody Flight 4 PBLV Emprise II Sonny, Buzz Success  
Venture TM-5 Benchmark IA Emprise II Albart, Sivin Success Expedition 9.

This log is updated at the end of each in-game year.



Launch vehicles

Name Introduced Payload to LKO Flights (failures) Status Notes
Benchmark I Year 6 9 t 39 (1) Retired  
Benchmark IA Year 9 9 t 12 (0) Active  
Benchmark IB Year - 15 t 0 (0) In development  
Benchmark II S Year - 16 t 0 (0) In development  
Benchmark II S2 Year - 17 t 0 (0) In development  
Benchmark II S4 Year - 18 t 0 (0) In development  
Benchmark II M Year - 25 t 0 (0) In development  
Benchmark II H Year - 52 t 0 (0) In development  
Celerity Year 5 15 t 8 (1) Active  
Leapfrog Year 2 Suborbital 9 (0) Active  
Leapfrog II Year 5 Suborbital 6 (0) Active First recoverable rocket.
PBLV Year 8   4 (0) Active First reusable orbital rocket.
Velocity I Year 2 1.4 t 13 (1) Retired  
Velocity II Year 2 3.7 t 21 (2) Retired  
Velocity II+ Year 3 4 t 1 (0) Retired  
Velocity III Year 4 5 t 8 (1) Retired  
Velocity IIIA Year 6 5.5 t 5 (3) Retired  
Velocity IV Year 4 13.8 t 18 (0) Retired  
Velocity V Year 4 2.1 t 3 (0) Retired  
Velocity VA Year 5 2.9 t 1 (0) Retired  
Velocity E1 Year 9 13 t 1 (0) Active  
Velocity E2 Year - 15 t 0 (0) In development  

Space vehicles

Name Introduced Type Crew Flights Status Notes
GRUNT Year 7 Spacecraft - 2 Active  
Emprise Year 3 Station 2 - Deorbited First space station.
Emprise II Year 6 Station ? - Active First modular station.
Endeavour Year 8 Spacecraft 3 1 In development  
Experimental Station 1 Year 6/8 Station ? - Active  
Munar Landing Vehicle Year 5 Lander 1 4 Active First kermanned lander.
Peabody Year 8 Spacecraft 4 4 Active  
Quest Block 1 Year 2 Spacecraft - 2 Retired  
Quest Block 2A Year 4 Spacecraft - 3 Retired  
Quest Block 2B Year 4 Spacecraft - 5 Retired  
Quest Block 3 Year 7 Spacecraft - 5 Active  
Shepherd Year 6 Spacecraft - 12 Active  
Venture Block 1 Year 2 Spacecraft 1 7 Retired First kermanned spacecraft.
Venture Block 2 Year 2 Spacecraft 2 15 Retired  
Venture Block 3 Year 4 Spacecraft 2 3 Retired  
Venture Block 4 Year 6 Spacecraft 2 14 Retired  
Venture Block 5 Year - Spacecraft 2 - Cancelled  
Venture T Year 8 Spacecraft 2 8 Retired  
Venture TM Year 9 Spacecraft 2 5 Active  



Edited by SBKerman
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The first kerbonauts hired; pilots Jeb, Val and Phoebe, engineer Bill and scientist Bob.

Venture Test 1 through 6B, preparing the spacecraft


While the first year was spent mostly on R&D, kerbonaut training, simple equipment testing and a few sounding rockets, the second year would see actual operational launches. The primary effort was placed on the Venture program, with the stated goal of bringing kerbals to space. To achieve this goal, the engineers at the KSC had designed the Venture spacecraft. The Block 1 version was a single seat, capsule type vehicle, that would be used in a series of six orbital flights to prove system reliability. It was to be followed by the Block 2, equipped with a two seat command capsule, a docking mechanism and an improved service module.

To prepare Block 1 for flight, a set of seven tests were performed. These included a complete vehicle check on the ground, pad abort and in-flight aborts, and parachute deployment and landing tests.

Venture Test 1, 2 and 3.

Venture Test 4, 5, 6A and 6B.

The spacecraft passed all tests with flying colours, allowing the program to continue to the next phase.


SCAR-1, 2 and 3, collecting science from space


Before kerbals could leave the planet, the space program had to prove that it could get off the ground at all. This was the job of SCAR, the Science Collect And Return missions. Flown on the newly developed two stage Velocity I rocket, the SCAR probes would enter orbit around Kerbin. After collecting data from the vacuum of space, they would deorbit, releasing a small return capsule to be retrieved and its content studied. However, the first launch did not go so well.

SCAR-1 and its launcher crash landing near the SPH.

Due to an improperly installed guidance system, the Velocity rocket, carrying the first SCAR probe, tumbled and fell back to the ground. Luckily no one was hurt, and damage to the KSC was minimal. With the problem located and fixed, SCAR-2 lifted off successfully twelve days later. It achieved orbit, collected data from the onboard instruments, and sent its return capsule back into the atmosphere for a splash down near the launch site.

SCAR-2 takes off from the launchpad.

Velocity I upper stage breaks away.

SCAR-2 on orbit, collecting science.

The return capsule, protected by a heat shield, struggles through Kerbin's atmosphere.

Splash down and a successful end to the first space mission.

Not long after SCAR-2 had returned, and while the data it brought back was still being analyzed, a third rocket rolled out. Scientists wanted to test the hypothesis that space high above a planet was somehow different than space near it. Thus, SCAR-3 was launched into an elliptical orbit, with its apoapsis at 256 km.

The second successful launch of the space program.

SCAR-3 return capsule detached from the propulsion unit.

Descending by parachute to a ground landing.

The data returned from SCAR-3 confirmed what the scientific community had been speculating. There was a difference between low and high space. Armed with this knowledge, the boffins at the KSC began planning for new missions even farther out in space.


Venture 1, first orbital launch


With two successful launches under its belt, the space program was ready to go ahead with Venture 1, the first flight of the new spacecraft. Being much heavier than the previous SCAR probes, it would be lofted by a Velocity II rocket. This was basically a Velocity I with two additional side boosters, similar in design to the core stage. These would ignite first, acting as the first stage. Once out of fuel, the side boosters would be jettisoned and the core stage lit.

Before the launch, the members of the first kerbonaut group were taken out to the launchpad to inspect the vehicle. Venture 1 would fly unkermanned. If all went well, one of the five intrepid kerbonauts would go next, and thus become the first kerbal in space.

The group marvel at the sight of the spacecraft and launch vehicle.

Gathering at the base of the large rocket.

It would be bad form to miss a perfect photo op.

Once the inspection, and the media circus surrounding it, was over, it was back to business. With the rocket fueled and ready to go, the count down continued without delay. At T minus zero, the engines came to life with a roar, lifting the whole stack upwards. It was a good launch.

A perfect take off.

The side boosters are jettisoned, having done their job.

Core stage separation complete...

... and a good light on the upper stage.

Once the upper stage has burnt out, the spacecraft uses its own engine to finalize the orbit.

Venture 1 has arrived!

Having made it safely into space, the craft underwent a multitude of tests to its propulsion, reaction control thrusters and other vital systems. After one hour and fifteen minutes of flight, Venture 1 turned retrograde and burned for reentry. The service module was then jettisoned, leaving only the command module to return to the surface. It did so, thanks to its heatshield and parachutes. Splash down occured in the ocean east of the KSC.

Screaming through the upper atmosphere.

Moments before splash down.

The command module was recovered successfully, and after inspections showed no ill effects from its time in space, the next craft, Venture 2, was cleared for a kermanned launch.


Coming up next: Can kerbals into space?

Edited by SBKerman
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A brave kerbonaut walks across the gangplank to the waiting rocket ship.


Venture 2, first kerbal in space


The moment everyone had waited for was finally here. Kerbalkind would take the big leap off the planet and enter the infinite void above. The lucky kerbonaut to be selected for this historic mission was Jebediah Kerman. His spacecraft, Venture 2, had been mounted on top of its Velocity II launch vehicle and stood ready on the launchpad. With Jeb firmly seated in the command module, the countdown reached zero, and the engines lit up with a thunderous roar. Slowly, the rocket began to rise.

Venture 2 takes off from the launchpad.

Core stage and launch escape rockets are jettisoned.

Circularizing the orbit.

Jeb's limited but breathtaking view from inside the capsule.

History is made as the first kerbal escapes the atmosphere of Kerbin.

Having arrived safely in space, Jeb gathered the status of the craft and reported his readings back to the KSC. Everything checked out fine, and he was given the go-ahead to complete one orbit. As excited as one could be, the pioneering kerbal acknowledged the call, and settled in for the experience of a life time. During the next thirty minutes or so, he watched in amazment as the familiar, yet strange looking features of Kerbin rushed by below him. Or possibly above him. It was hard to tell in microgravity.

When the ride was over, the single engine of the service module fired again to bring Venture 2 back down. The crew at mission control breathed a sigh of relief. Partly because the mission had gone so well, and partly because they were tired of hearing Jeb scream "I'm in #%& space!" every five seconds. It was, however, too early to relax just yet. Checking the trajectory of the incoming command module revealed what could be a fatal mistake. The reentry burn had been to long, and Jeb's capsule was coming down dangerously close to Mount Boostmore, located west of the KSC.

Burning through the atmosphere, heading for a mountain range.

Descending towards an unknown fate.

The command module slammed hard into the ground and began rolling down a steep slope. Holding on for dear life, Jeb could only hope that the terrifying ride would be a short one. Eventually, the sturdy tin can did come to a stop, buckled and scraped, but in one piece, and with its occupant still alive.

Any landing you can walk away from...

Jebediah and his capsule were recovered from the crash landing site and brought back to the KSC, where the valiant kerbonaut would get some well-deserved rest. While he recuperated, the mission he had flown was reviewed. After some debate, the consensus was that despite the unfortunate mishap during reentry, the overall flight had been a success. This led to the next mission, Venture 3, being green-lit.


Venture 3, staying longer


While Venture 2 had spent a little less than an hour in orbit, Venture 3 would stay up for five days. This would be a test to see how prolonged flights could effect both kerbal and machine. Piloting this mission was Bill, as it had been deemed wise to have an engineer in command in case something mechanical broke down. If the kerbal broke down though, it didn't really matter who was aboard.

Venture 3 sits on the pad, awaiting launch.

The core stage separates and is pushed away by four small rocket motors.

Heading for orbit on the upper stage.

After a nominal launch, Bill found himself in the weightless environment of space. He made a thorough check of all the instruments, and got confirmation from the ground to commence the five day mission. Much of the time was spent making observations, checking readings and performing simple experiments. What little free time he had, Bill spent staring out the window, watching the clouds and continents of Kerbin pass by.

At the end of the fifth day, the spacecraft was realigned for the reentry burn. This time the numbers had been double checked and triple checked to avoid another near disaster. The engine fired, and Bill prepared for the long fall back to the surface of his home planet.

The command and service modules reentering on different trajectories.

Coming down in the ocean, not in the mountains.

To the relief of everyone, the command module splashed down right where it was supposed to. The successful flight of Venture 3 had shown that kerbals could live and work in space for extended periods. This was an important step in the continued exploration of the cosmos.


Venture 4 and 5, a meeting in the sky


Of vital importance to future operations was the ability for two spacecraft to meet up in orbit. This was the goal of the combined mission of Venture 4 and 5. Venture 4, commanded by Bob, was to act as the passive vessel during the rendezvous. Valentina, commanding Venture 5, would perform the actual maneuvers. Once in close proximity of one another, the spacecraft would share one revolution around the planet before separating and landing.

Venture 4 was first to launch. It thundered off the pad and proceeded through its gravity turn with textbook precision. After final engine cutoff, Bob was coasting in a stable 96 x 104 km orbit.

A beautiful day for a launch.

Venture 4 emerges through the clouds.

After a successful launch, Bob awaits the arrival of his colleague.

A day later, a second Velocity II launched Valentina on Venture 5. Upon reaching orbit, she would have to wait one more day before the rendezvous could take place.

A now familiar sight at the space center.

The core stage pushes the spacecraft through the atmosphere.

Final burn to complete orbital insertion.

On day 292, the two kermanned spacecraft were so aligned that maneuvering could begin. Two burns of the main engine on Venture 5 brought them near enough for direct communication. Using the RCS thrusters, Valentina then skilfully piloted her ship even closer.

Thrusters firing during the early part of the rendezvous.

Reducing the distance.

Bob's view of the event.

Having made the final approach, Venture 5 was now station keeping only a few meters from Venture 4. They remained in this formation for one full orbit. As the time came to end the mission, Valentina once again used the thrusters to carefully move away, while Bob prepared for his reentry and landing. When enough distance had been established, Bob fired his main engine and Venture 4 dived into the atmosphere. After it had successfully landed, Valentina went through the same procedure.

Venture 4 separating from its service module.

Deploying the drogue chute.

After a successful splashdown there's nothing to do but wait for the recovery team.

Valentina performs her deorbit burn with accuracy.

Descending within view of the KSC.


At the conclusion of the joint mission, another step in the new field of space travel had been taken. This would open up a whole slew of new possibilities, such as docking and on orbit construction.


Venture 6, space is hard


With one successful mission after another, people at the space program were starting to grow complacent. A dangerous state of mind in any situation, but especially if you work with rockets propelled by controlled explosions. Venture 6 was supposed to be another five day flight, during which mission commander Phoebe would take her spacecraft into the recently discovered "high space" region.

Nothing ominous about this at all.

Early ascent proceeding smoothly.

The launch began just as it had the five times before, with the two engines of the Velocity II first stage lighting up with thunder and flame. The vehicle left the pad and was gaining altitude when suddenly, one of the engines lost thrust, causing the whole thing to veer off course. Phoebe kept a cool head, and with only a split second to react, pulled the abort lever. The launch escape motors brought the command module away from the failing booster. At a safe distance, the drogue chute deployed, followed shortly by the main chute.

The command module is seperated from the launch vehicle.

Parachuting to a safe landing.

Phoebe seems rather unfaced by the ordeal.

All that is left of the rocket after impacting near the beach.

While the malfunctioning Velocity rocket crashed violently below, Phoebe's capsule slowly descended. After it had settled on the ground, the unscaved kerbonaut could climb out of the hatch without external help. It had been another close call, as well as a grim reminder to the entire program that space is indeed hard.


Coming up next: End of the second year

Edited by SBKerman
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Testing a new launch escape system.


SCAR-4, Mun flyby


The Venture 6 failure had temporarily halted further kermanned flights. It had not, however, halted any robotic missions from being launched. This allowed the next SCAR probe to be moved up the time table, and also for it to be given a more extravagant goal. A simple trip around Kerbin was not enough this time around. SCAR-4 was going to the Mun.

Launched on a Velocity I, the probe entered a parking orbit, where it waited until the appropriate time to burn for the Mun. The trans-munar injection was performed partially by the Velocity upper stage and finished off using the probe's own propulsion. After a single course correction, SCAR-4 was on a free return trajectory which would take it around the Mun and back to Kerbin. It would then enter the atmosphere and land its data-filled return capsule. That is, if the protective shield could withstand the reentry heat.

Rising from the launchpad amidst a cloud of smoke.

A clean separation of the fairings.

Burning for the Mun.

Arriving at its destination, SCAR-4 began taking measurements using the onboard instruments. Meanwhile, at mission control, the flight was tracked in detail. As expected, the signal was lost as the probe made its way around Kerbin's largest satellite. When it reemerged on the other side, data showed it to be on course and heading home.

Next would come the real challenge; the reentry of the return capsule. Its heatshield had not been designed with a return from the Mun in mind. The question of whether it would survive was about to be answered.

SCAR-4 emerges from the far side of the Mun.

The return capsule trails behind the jettisoned propulsion unit.

Landing only a few km from the KSC.

It did survive the intense heat and had a successful parachute deployment. The biggest surprise of all, and a pleasant one at that, was that the capsule landed in the grasslands just beyond the space center. No complicated retrieval operation was necessary. The recovery team could simply take a leisurely stroll from the KSC and grab it.


Venture 6A, if at first you don't succeed


After weeks of investigation, the failure that occured during the launch of Venture 6 had been narrowed down to faulty wiring in one of the control systems. Necessary precautions were taken, clearing the Velocity II launch vehicle for kermanned flight once more. With the mission rescheduled, and Phoebe back in the pilot's seat, Venture 6A was ready to take to the sky.


The core stage ignites while the two side boosters fall away.

Venture 6A separates from the empty upper stage and performs the orbital insertion burn.

Phoebe has finally made it to space.

With the launch successfully completed, the first part of the mission could commence. Firing the spacecraft's engine, the orbit was extended so that its apoapsis touched 308 km. During the subsequent coasting, Phoebe made as many observations and took as many readings as she could. One of the most important discoveries was that at 250 km, the scientific instruments began returning very different data, marking this altitude as the divide between low and high space.

The main engine fires a second time to raise the apoapsis.

When the spacecraft returned to periapsis, another burn of its engine circularized the orbit at around 100 km. Here it would stay for the rest of the mission. Phoebe continued to perform simple experiments and collecting data until it was time to head home after five days in space.

Jettisoning the service module prior to reentry.

A successful splashdown marks the end of the mission.

After a trouble-free reentry and landing, the fifth spacefaring kerbonaut returned to the KSC for her debriefing. She would be the last person to fly to space this year, and the last ever to fly the Venture Block 1 spacecraft.


Venture Test 7 through 9, testing Block 2


As the second year of the space program drew to a close, plans for the future were being made. A big part of this future was the Venture Block 2. It retained much of the earlier design, but a few things were new. The command module now held two crew members and would have a docking port in the nose. This required a new parachute system to be developed, as well as a new launch escape system. To qualify these items for operational use, a new batch of tests were conducted.

Venture Test 7, 8 and 9.

The first of these was an inflight test of the launch escape system. The new LES tower proved capable of pulling the command module away from a speeding rocket. Next, the parachute system was tested. In order for it to deploy, it would have to jettison the docking port first. On the first try, the port slammed back into the command module, and although it didn't cause much damage, a slight redesign was made. Tested again, it proved successful. Satisfied with the results, management approved an unkermanned test flight of the entire spacecraft early the next year.


End of Year Report (Y2)


Funds: 55,346
Science: 651.4

Vehicle Assembly Building at level 2
Launchpad at level 2
Spaceplane Hangar at level 1
Runway at level 1
Research and Development at level 1
Mission Control at level 2
Tracking Station at level 2
Administration Building at level 3
Kerbonaut Complex at level 1

Construction Time
VAB Rate 1 at 1 BP/s
SPH Rate 1 at 0.9 BP/s
R&D Devel. at 64 sci/day

P1 Jebediah (1)
P1 Valentina (1)
P1 Phoebe (1)
E1 Bill (1)
S1 Bob (1)

( ) shows number of space flights


Coming up next: New year, new missions, new kerbonauts

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New kerbonauts; pilots Wehrsted, Thompdous and Verfal, engineers Buzz and Ferny, and scientists Gersen and Janson.


Local science, kerbonauts in training


When they were not in space, the kerbonauts spent much of their time in training. This included field research, which helped them prepare for future missions, while at the same time, advanced the scientific knowledge about Kerbin itself. Some of the research had to be done in the air. The vehicle used for this purpose was the single-seat Whirlwind Mk1, a propeller-driven plane that was both quick and agile, but notoriously difficult to land. Many pilots had rolled off the runway while trying to come to a stop. Still, it was well suited for the task assigned to it. The cockpit offered great visibility, and the small cargo bay could hold a number of science experiments.

Jebediah checks to make sure the cargo is stowed safely.

Taking off from the KSC runway.

View from inside the cockpit.

When the research called for land-based observations, the kerbals usually drove to the location in question. After reaching the destination, they would deploy all the scientific instruments that laden their vehicle.

Travelling across the vast grasslands.

Bill and Bob collect scientific data from the foot of Mount Boostmore.

All this work, while productive, was putting a strain on the small kerbonaut corps. To handle the multitude of upcoming missions, an infusion of personnel was needed. Early in the year, new kerbals began arriving at the space center. Seven all together, they were to form the second kerbonaut group.


Venture 7, maiden flight of Block 2


The first flight of the year was also one of the most important. It would place into orbit the spacecraft that was to serve the space program for the foreseeable future. On day 26, at 04:30 standard Kerbin time, the engines of the Velocity II dual booster stage lit up. It hurled the unkermanned Venture 7 into orbit for its final test.

Taking off from the space center.

Booster separation and core stage ignition.

Racing through the air on a pillar of fire.

The launch escape tower is jettisoned shortly after core stage separation.

The upper stage of the rocket continues the job.

Orbital insertion burn.


For ten days, Venture 7 circled Kerbin. This was five days longer than what it was rated for if a crew had been aboard. The extended time period served to guarantee that the spacecraft could handle the maximum mission time of kermanned flights. Once the ten days were up, it returned to the surface.

Performing the reentry burn.

Block 2 uses the same proven heat shield as Block 1.

Venture 7 splashes down after ten days in space.

The charred command module was brought back to the space center for study by a team of engineers. Their conclusion was that the Block 2 was a "damn fine piece of equipment" and they approved it for operational use.


Venture 8, first two-kerman crew


Following the success of Venture 7, the Block 2 spacecraft was ready to fly a kermanned crew. Veteran kerbonaut Bob was chosen as mission commander, with rookie Wehrsted joining him. They would spend two days in space, during which Bob would perform the first ever extravehicular activity.

Preparing for take-off.

For the first time, two kerbonauts are launched in the same spacecraft.

Core stage separation.

A final push into orbit.

The launch went without a hitch. Having arrived in their designated orbit, the crew set about the many tasks demanded by the mission. They performed a range of experiments including space object radiometry, star occultation navigation, and several visual ground observations. On the second day, it was time for the main event. Bob opened the hatch and left the spacecraft, becoming the first kerbal to do a spacewalk.

Wehrsted is very excited about being in space.

The amazing view out the left window.

Bob steps outside for some fresh air to admire the beauty of Kerbin.

After two days of hard work, Bob and Wehrsted turned their spacecraft around and ignited the engine. The burn brought them back into the atmosphere, heading for an oceanic landing.

Firing the engine retrograde.

Do you smell something burning?

Fully deployed main parachute, visible through the command module windows.

Venture 8 had been another historic spaceflight. No only as a technical achievement, like the previous ones, but also because it was the first to carry with it more than just the bare basics of science experiments. In a way, it marked the start of proper exploration.


Mapper 1, mapping Kerbin


Ever since the launch of the first SCAR probe, the scientific community had been eager to continue studying Kerbin from the vantage point of space. One key area of interest was the geography and topography of the planet. This led to the construction of Mapper 1, a satellite designed to perform a low resolution scan. To properly cover the surface of Kerbin, Mapper 1 would be launched into a polar orbit, something that had never been done before.

Launching on a Velocity I.

The upper stage brings the payload to orbit.

Scanner deployed.

The mission was a success, giving the scientists much data to work with. It also proved it possible to place objects in polar orbit using the current launch vehicles. This was important, as it was required by other planned missions.


Coming up next: Dockings, tourists and probing Minmus

Edited by SBKerman
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Hi @SBKerman! I made a patch for your space program!


''Christ this is the 4th day since i saw Simon''




200 - 150 - 180


You can use it as your flag in-game!

Your welcome!

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Two Venture spacecraft facing each other in orbit.


VTV-1 and Venture 9, first docking in space


Last year, Valentina had piloted Venture 5 into a rendezvous with another spacecraft. Now she was in command of Venture 9, which would not only meet up with a target, but also dock to it. Since it was considered too dangerous to try this new maneuver with another crew, a substitute was needed. To this end, a Velocity I upper stage had been converted into a simple drone, equipped with a docking port. The resulting Velocity Target Vehicle was launched on day 154.

Carried aloft by the core stage.

The fairing separates, revealing the docking adapter inside.

After confirming that VTV-1 had reached orbit successfully, mission control informed Val and her crewmate Thompdous, that they were go for launch. The night sky was lit up by the bright flames of the Velocity II engines, as they propelled Venture 9 towards space.

Night time launch.

Venture 9 makes orbit.

The launch had been timed so that they would catch up with the target vehicle within a single revolution. Applying her previous experience, Valentina then controlled the spacecraft through the final phase of the docking. She nailed it on the first attempt. With the two vessels merged into one, the most important part of the mission had been achieved. Next followed a visual inspection of the docking mechanism. Val left the confines of the command module on the second EVA of the space program.

Approaching the target.

Docking confirmed.

Valentina checks the docking ports during her EVA.

Using the engine of the VTV, the high point of the orbit was raised to just over 260 km. The docking mechanism was then checked again, this time by Thompdous. It showed no apparent signs of damage resulting from the stress of the engine burn. Having completed the inspection, Thompdous returned to his seat and settled in for a five day coasting in the current elliptical orbit. There were no experiments for the crew to run, as they themselves were volunteer test subjects in a study of the effects of exposure to high space.

Raising the orbit.

Thompdous becomes the third kerbal to walk in space.


When the five days were over, another burn of the VTV engine brought the orbit down to a circular 100 km. Venture 9 then undocked and moved away, before peforming its deorbit burn. The command module splashed down east of the space center and was picked up shortly thereafter.

Creating some distance between Venture 9 and VTV-1.

The service module and docking port are jettisoned.

I can see the VAB from here.

The drogue slows the capsule down, before main parachute deployment.

Ending the mission with a splashdown.

Once the recovery crew had done its job and everybody was safely back at the KSC, VTV-1 was deorbited. It burned up in the atmosphere over the same ocean where the kerbonauts had landed.


Venture 10 and 11, emergency crew transfer test


It had been recognized early on, that in an emergency, kerbonauts might be forced to jump between spacecraft. To test the viability of this, and to get some practice in, the joint Venture 10/11 mission was planned. Bill, together with rookie pilot Verfal, would launch in Venture 10, while Jebediah launched alone in Venture 11. Following a rendezvous in the orbit, Verfal would step outside and proceed to move from one vessel to the other.

Venture 10 lifts off on its boosters.

Continuing the flight on the core stage.

The core stage separates after running out of fuel.

Almost there.

While they waited for Jeb to arrive, Bill and Verfal each performed a spacewalk in preparation for the actual transfer. Although Bill would not leave his seat during the operation, he could be called upon to mount a rescue if something went wrong.

Verfal practising before her big moment.

Bill practising a rescue in case the big moment fails.

On the ground, the countdown was continuing uninterrupted. As it reached zero, the engines growled and pushed the rocket skywards. To the vexation of everyone in mission control, Jeb excitedly shouted "I'm going to space again!" all the way to orbit.

Venture 11 goes through the launch procedure.

Jebediah is back in space for a second time.

Now it was time to get serious. The first phase of the operation was Jeb's responsibility. With the skill of a true professional, he performed the rendezvous maneuver, bringing his spacecraft as close as possible to Venture 10. For the next phase, it was all up to Verfal. She opened the hatch and climbed outside. With her mind focused solely on the task at hand, she let go of the rail and drifted a few meters before activating her jetpack.

Closing in on Venture 10.

Verfal exits the command module and prepares for the transfer.

Using her jetpack, she moves between the vessels.

"No, Jeb! I'm not gonna do a knock knock joke. Just let me in!"

The transfer was a complete success. Seated safely next to Jeb, Verfal received congratulations from her fellow kerbonauts and an ecstatic cheer from mission control. Thanks to her effort, the space program now had a proven way of moving crew between spacecraft should a situation ever call for it. All that remained of this mission was the return home.

Venture 11 performs its deorbit burn, and parachutes to a landing in the ocean.

Later that same day, Venture 10 returns in the same manner.

Both landings were successful, and for the first time, a kerbonaut splashed down in a different command module from the one she had launched in.


Venture 12, space tourism


Despite its apparent success, the space program was struggling. It faced an economic crisis and needed to make some quick cash. Enter millionnaire Tito Kerman, the first space tourist. He was ready to pay handsomely for the opportunity to ride one of the Venture spacecraft. There was some resistance to the idea at first, but when Tito showed the check he was willing to sign, the deal was done. Needing a dependable kerbonaut to handle this mission, management assigned Pheobe as commander.

Leaving the KSC behind.

Leaving the Velocity upper stage behind.

Venture 12 is in orbit.

During the five hour flight, Tito helped run a magnetometer experiment, made ground and weather observations, and took part in an interview over radio with a global news network. When it came time to return home, Phoebe turned the spacecraft around and fired the engine for reentry.

Leaving a trail of plasma behind during descent through the atmosphere.

These landings sure are becoming routine.

It had been an all-round successful mission and a PR boost for the space program. Most importantly however, it had generated the funds needed to continue the exploration of space.


SCAR-5, Minmus flyby


With bolstered confidence, the people in charge approved the next SCAR mission. This time they were aiming high. Literally. The goal was a flyby of Minmus, the smaller and more distant of Kerbin's two moons.

SCAR-5 launches on top of a Velocity I.

Fairing separation followed by the orbital insertion and plane change burn.

The probe is ready for the next leg of the mission.

Before being jettisoned, the upper stage of the Velocity launch vehicle had placed the payload in an orbit matching that of Minmus. Now, the probe's own engine would have to make the final burn that would send it on an encounter with the target. But there was a problem. It turned out the probe did not have enough delta-v to make it all the way. Scientist and engineers scrambled to salvage the mission, and after much discussion, a solution was found. What they decided to do was to detach the return capsule and leave it in orbit. Without the added weight of the capsule, the numbers matched up, allowing SCAR-5 to reach its destination. From there, it could radio in the data. Although it would not yield as much information as a proper return, it was better than declaring the entire mission a failure.

Dumping the return capsule in order to save weight.

Approaching Minmus.

A final burn sends the probe hurtling towards its doom.

Official records labeled it a partial failure, but in the media it was hailed as a victory against technological adversity. The probe itself was directed into Kerbin's atmosphere, for a quiet and unceremonious destruction.


Coming up next: Launching the first space station

Edited by SBKerman
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I've added a flight log to the first post. It lists all missions (excluding science farming around the KSC and such) in chronological order.

Also, I've decided to try and post updates regularly every tuesday and friday. Hopefully my work schedule, and my motivation, will allow that.

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Buzz Kerman going on a spacewalk at the new station.


Emprise, the first space station


To facilitate longer missions, management had directed funds to the development and launch of an orbiting space station. Aptly named Emprise, it could house two kerbonauts for longer periods of time than the regular Venture spacecraft. Launch took place on day 283, on top of a Velocity II rocket.

Lift-off of Emprise station, our new home in space.

The launch proceeds in a nominal manner.

As the core stage burns out and separates, the upper stage takes over.

Circularizing the orbit using the onboard engines.

With solar panels unfurled and antennas extended, the station is ready to be activated.

Before receiving its first crew, Emprise would be visited by an unkermanned spacecraft. This was to test the docking procedure without risking lives. It also served as an important step in the development of future unkermanned resupply vessels.


Venture 13, testing an improved launch vehicle


Venture 13 left Kerbin's surface fifteen days after the successful deployment of the new space station. It was lofted skywards by an experimental launch vehicle, known as the Velocity II+. Featuring stretched fuel tanks on the boosters, it was intended to provide more lifting power than the regular Velocity II. Because the Venture Block 2 was slightly heavier than its predecessor, it had to use more of its own fuel to achieve a stable orbit. With a more powerful launcher, some of this fuel could be saved for on-orbit maneuvers.

Launching at night to rendezvous with the station

The extended boosters separate cleanly.

Final push into orbit.

Unfortunately, the added weight of the larger tanks negated any gain in lifting capability. As it turned out, the engines would have to be upgraded as well for the design to have any merit. Because of this, the Velocity II+ was cancelled after only one flight. However, the concept would certainly be revisted later on.

This didn't have much impact on the mission though. Venture 13 performed the rendezvous, and docked successfully with Emprise station. It remained there for two days before undocking and returning to the surface of Kerbin.

Spacecraft and station docked together.

The command module plunges through the atmosphere.

Landing by parachute.

The return of Venture 13 opened the station up for the first kermanned visit.


Venture 14, first visit to the station


The crew scheduled to be the first inhabitants of Emprise consisted of Valentina in the role of commander and Buzz as the flight engineer. They launched late in the day and caught up with the station as darkness settled over the KSC. Valentina, one of the most experienced kerbonauts of the space program, piloted Venture 14 to a successful docking.

The launch window opened up late during the day.

Approaching the station.

Venture 14 has docked.

One of the first tasks the crew had to perform was to collect biological samples from two containers attached to the belly of the station. In a record-setting spacewalk, Valentina exited through the airlock and moved herfself carefully past the solar panels to reach the containers. Having removed the samples, she then made her way back to the airlock to close out EVA 1.

Not to be outdone, Buzz went out on EVA 2 a few hours later. His job was to remove the empty containers, and then install a new electronics module that would interface with the station's onboard computer to improve its performance. It was hard work, but Buzz persevered.

Valentina leaves the airlock for the first EVA of the mission.

Removing samples from containers on the ventral hull of the station.

Buzz attaches new computer equipment.

Having finished their spacewalks, Val and Buzz continued work inside the station. For twelve days, they ran experiments and tested systems, setting the record for the longest space mission in the process. Before leaving, Valentina had one more EVA scheduled, during which she checked the service module of Venture 14, to make sure it was ready for the flight home.

Valentina inspects the service module of the spacecraft.

Moving away from the station.

After twelve days in space, the crew makes a landing in the ocean.

This had been the most complex mission yet undertaken, and by the end, it was deemed 100% successful. The participating kerbonauts were commended, and told that they had set a new standard for future work in space.


Mapper 2, continuing Kerbin research


Following up on the success of its predecessor, Mapper 2 was launched into polar orbit to perform a multispectral scan.

Another Velocity I leaves the launchpad and climbs through the atmosphere.

The payload is released.

After a preliminary scan to test the instruments, Mapper 2 was supposed to move into a higher orbit for the rest of its mission. However, contact was lost with the satellite while the final preparations for the burn were being conducted. The problem was traced to the bus, called PROBUS B, on which Mapper 2 was based. It had the solar panels placed at an angel behind the fuel and instrumentation area. The way Mapper 2 was pointing, these panels did not receive any sunlight, which caused the batteries to drain. Unfortunately, there was no way to fix this, and the mission had to be declared a failure.


Venture 15, another space tourist


The failure of Mapper 2 had cost the space program funds it could ill afford to lose. Once again, it had to look to the public for support. Jorby Kerman the Third, a wealthy businesskerman, had expressed interest in visiting this new space station everyone was talking about. Taking a seat away from a proper kerbonaut was not a popular choice, but it had to be done if there were to be any kerbonauts at all. Jorby was thus booked on Venture 15, together with mission commander Jebediah.

Clear skies greet them as they rise from the launchpad.

After an uneventful flight, Venture 15 reaches the station.

Successfully docked.

Having arrived at the station, Jeb and his passenger settled in for a ten day visit. Not much work got done, since the only experiment Jorby seemed to enjoy was catching snacks with his mouth while floating around the living quarters. This did not amuse poor Jeb, who felt he was wasting time babysitting a rich buffoon. The only time he felt useful was when he got to go on EVA, the first of his career, to check on the spacecraft before departure.

Jeb inspects the vessel.

Backing away.

Jettisoning of the docking port and service module pictured in sequence.

Jorby screams in fear all through reentry.

Splashdown. Not a moment to soon.

Unlike the first tourism flight, this had been a disaster. An entire space station mission had been wasted, and the only redeeming factor was the payout. Even the bean counters at the KSC felt bad about it. They hurriedly accepted Jorby's check, gave him his "I went to space and all i got was this lousy t shirt" garment, and sent him on his way.


Quest 1 and 2, resupplying Emprise


To support next years missions to the station, it needed to be restocked with supplies and fuel. For this purpose, the unkermanned Quest spacecraft had been designed. Using the Venture service module, and adding storage sections, it could carry everything needed for two visiting crews staying ten days each.

The first protoype was launched as Quest 1. It all seemed to be going fine when, at an altitude of 16 km, a turbopump failure brought the rocket down. It crashed into the ocean, and what pieces were left sank to the bottom.

Quest 1 lifts off to bring supplies to Emprise station.

A failure causes the rocket to fall into the ocean.

There was nothing else to do but to give it another shot. Quest 2 launched about a week later, and this time, the vessel made it to orbit. After a few days of coasting, it began the rendezvous.

Trying again with Quest 2.

The launch ends successfully.

Docking to the station after seven days.

Having completed its mission, Quest 2 is disposed of.

One thing had become evident early on in the flight. The Quest vehicle behaved very sluggish and had problems orienting itself during maneuvers. Work immediately began on a Block 2 version.

Testing an early prototype of the new version on the ground.

Three more missions to Emprise were planned, with two of these being kermanned. After that, the station was most likely going to be decommisioned, and therefore, it didn't need any more resupplies. This gave the engineers time to tinker with the Block 2 design. They were confident that they would have it ready by the time the next generation of space stations came into operation.


End of Year Report (Y3)


Funds: 318,594
Science: 64.9

Vehicle Assembly Building at level 2
Launchpad at level 2
Spaceplane Hangar at level 1
Runway at level 1
Research and Development at level 2
Mission Control at level 2
Tracking Station at level 2
Administration Building at level 3
Kerbonaut Complex at level 2

Construction Time
VAB Rate 1 at 1 BP/s
VAB Rate 2 at 0.5 BP/s
SPH Rate 1 at 1 BP/s
SPH Rate 2 at 0.5 BP/s
R&D Devel. at 64 sci/day

P1 Jebediah (3)
P1 Valentina (3)
P1 Phoebe (2)
P1 Wehrsted (1)
P1 Thompdous (1)
P1 Verfal (1)
E1 Bill (2)
E1 Buzz (1)
E0 Ferny (0)
S1 Bob (2)
S0 Gersen (0)
S0 Janson (0)

( ) shows number of space flights


Coming up next: Start of the Mun program

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A probe heading for the Mun.


Mapper 3, scanning Kerbin


Built upon the new PROBUS C satellite bus, Mapper 3 was to fulfill the mission that Mapper 2 had failed. Extendable, tracking solar panels ensured that it could do so without risking the kind of power drainage that had doomed its predecessor. Mapper 3 was placed in polar orbit by a Velocity I launch vehicle. Firing its own engine, it then moved up to the optimum altitude and began the scan.

Rocketing towards the sky.

Fairing separation and ignition of the upper stage.

The satellite propels itself into its final orbit.

Several days later, the scan was complete. The boffins at the science department had a field day sifting through all the data. They were especially fascinated by a number of anomalies showing up at different places around the globe. These were marked for possible close study in the future.


Venture 16, third mission to Emprise station


After the debacle that was Venture 15, the space program barred tourists from joining future missions, at least until strict guidelines had been put in place. The next flight to Emprise was therefore crewed by authorized personnel only; mission commander Bob, on his third trip to space, and Ferny Kerman, a rookie from the second kerbonaut group. Together, they would spend ten days on the station.

Early morning launch.

Booster stage separation.

Docked with the station.

Launch, rendezvous and docking all went according to plan. The two kerbonauts transferred over to the station, and after having cleaned up all the snacks left floating around by Jorby, they began their work. Most of it was done inside, with only one EVA planned.

Bob collects a sample from an external container.

When the ten days were over, Bob and Ferny returned to the spacecraft and undocked. The visual inspection that had been done prior to departure on the earlier station visits was scratched from the checklist since the Venture had been proven reliable. A burn for reentry sent the mission through its final stage.

Time to leave.


... and splashdown.

Venture 16 made a safe landing, bringing back tons of juicy science. In regards to kermanned missions, the space program was back on track. One more crew was scheduled to visit Emprise, before the station was decommissioned.


Munar Exploration Program, the next step forward


Rumours had been circulating for some time about what the next big step for the space program would be. On the 41st day of the fourth year, an announcement made it official that the Mun Probes strategy had been signed. This was the first phase of a larger Munar exploration program, which would eventually see kerbals walk on the surface.



Venture 17, testing a new launch vehicle


Last year, an upgraded Velocity II had been tested, but was found to lack power. The design had now evolved into a new launch vehicle, the Velocity III. The booster stage engines, which had been the source of the previous problem, were replaced with the more capable LV-T30. Since these did not gimbal, two smaller verniers were also added, one on each side. The first test of the rocket would be to launch the unkermanned Venture 17, which was heading to the space station. If successful, all future Venture spacecraft would go up on Velocity IIIs.

The new engines light up.

Thundering off the pad.

A perfect booster separation.

Continuing on the core stage.

The core stage and launch escape tower are jettisoned, and the upper stage takes over.

In what can only be described as a textbook launch, the Velocity III delivered on its promise. Venture 17 arrived in orbit with more fuel available than on any previous flights. Using that fuel, it made a rendezvous and docking with the space station.

The joint spacecraft orbiting Kerbin.

The goal of Venture 17, apart from being a test of the launch vehicle, was to stay docked to Emprise for a total of 50 days. This was to certify the craft for longer missions, as the space program prepared for the future.


Muna 1 and 2, first probes in Munar orbit


As part of the new Munar Exploration Program, the first kermanmade object to go into orbit around the Mun was launched under the name Muna 1. This was a bit of a gamble, since the probe used the same bus that had caused Mapper 2 to fail. However, since it had already been built, management thought it a waste not to use it.

Launching on a Velocity I.

Muna 1 in orbit around the Mun.

The gamble didn't pay off. Shortly after arriving in Munar orbit, the probe stopped transmitting. Once again, the fault was traced to misaligned solar panels and drained batteries. All attempts to regain contact failed, and Muna 1 was abandoned. Two weeks later, an upgraded probe was launched to complete the mission.

Muna 2 launches on another Velocity I.

Arriving at the target.

This time, it worked. Muna 2 went into orbit and sent back good data. The new exploration program had truly begun.


Venture 17, returning home


After 50 days at the space station, Venture 17 finally undocked.

Leaving for home.

A burn of the engine sent the unkermanned craft back into the atmosphere. It splashed down safely and was returned to the KSC, where a thorough study showed that it had held up well during its long stay in space. This was of great importance to the extended missions that were being planned for the coming years.


Palantir Mun, keeping an eye on the Mun


The Kerbin central government had, for some time, been developing the Palantir telescope and imaging system, which was totally not a spy satellite. Wishing to hide its true agenda contribute to the space program, the government donated a working prototype to be sent to the Mun. It would enter a polar orbit, from where it could scan the surface and send back images of possible landing sites. This mission was made possible thanks to the success of the Velocity III, which allowed for heavier payloads than previous launch vehicles. Weighing in at several tons, Palantir Mun was definitely heavy.

Palantir Mun on the launchpad.

The powerful engines of the Velocity III carries the payload towards space.

The core stage burns out shortly after fairing separation.

The satellite and its transfer stage in parking orbit.

The launch vehicle performed the task without problem, bringing Palantir Mun almost to low Kerbin orbit. Equipped with a fourth stage, the satellite completed the orbital insertion on its own. It then used the same stage to perform the burn for trans-munar injection.

Arriving at the Mun.

Having separated from the transfer stage, Palantir Mun fired its onboard engine to place itself in the desired orbit. From there, it made a full scan of the surface, and took several photos of interesting locations. These were studied intensively, in preparation for the upcoming attempt to land a probe on the Mun.


Coming up next: Landing on the Mun

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Testing a lander at the KSC.


Venture 18, last visit to Emprise


The final mission to the space station had been assigned to kerbonauts Phoebe and Gersen. They were to stay for twelve days, rounding up the last experiments and closing down the facility in preparation for its decommision. Launch took place on day 137. For the first time, a crewed Venture spacecraft rode atop a Velocity III launch vehicle.

Tower cleared!

The Velocity III performs its duty well.

Venture 18 coasted in orbit for one day, during which a number of scientific measurements were made. Then, as the spacecraft and station came into alignment, the slow and methodical docking procedure began.

Docked to the station.

Gersen on EVA.

Two spacewalks were conducted during the stay. On EVA 1, Gersen collected the remaining samples from the containers mounted outside on the hull. A few days later, Phoebe went out on EVA 2, and did a final inspection of the station's exterior. The remaining time was spent finalizing a few experiments and then shutting down non-essential systems. Once their mission was over, the two kerbonauts got back into their spacecraft, shut the hatch behind them, and left for home.

Undocking from Emprise for the last time.

Venture 18 reenters.

Landing in the ocean at sunset.

The return of Venture 18 marked the end of space station activities for the time being. A new, larger structure was in development, but it would be some time yet before it could launch.


Mapper 4, documenting the munar surface


The exploration of Kerbin's closest neighbour continued with Mapper 4, launched by a Velocity I rocket. Using a simple transfer stage, which later crashed into the munar surface, the probe was placed in polar orbit. From there it conducted an extensive biome scan.

On the launchpad.

Trans-munar injection.

Scanning the surface.

Mapper 4 returned data that would be vital for the upcoming landings.


Muna 1, contact reestablished


Exactly one hundred days after communication had been severed, mission control was able to reestablish contact with Muna 1. Since not much else could be done with the old probe, it was used as an impactor to test the properties of the munar regolith.


Muna 3 and 4, first landing attempts


The main goal of the Munar Exploration Program was to put kerbonauts on the surface. Before such an attempt could be made, testing via unkermanned missions was needed. To this end, the KSC engineers had designed a robotic lander. It was basically a fuel tank with landing legs, an engine, and a few simple scientific instruments powered by a fuel cell. Getting the thing of the ground and to the Mun required a launch vehicle more powerful than any currently available. This led to the development of the Velocity IV. As its first stage it used the standard core stage with a wider top section added. Clustered around the core were four boosters from the Velocity III. These did not separate as before, but would instead fire simultaneous with the core. The second stage was a brand new design, 2.5 meters in diameter and equipped with a single, large engine.

Ready to launch.

The mighty Velocity IV lifts off with Muna 3.

All engines firing.

Fairing deployment and trans-munar injection burn.

The launch into parking orbit, and the burn for the Mun that followed, were all successful. The Velocity IV second stage remained attached to the payload throughout the flight. It was then used to break into munar orbit and initiate the descent to the surface.

Beginning the descent.

Almost there.

As Muna 3 fell towards its target, mission control detected an unusually rapid depletion of fuel. They were unable to adjust it, and the tanks ran dry much earlier than planned. An attempt was made to use the RCS thrusters to slow down, but it was to no avail. The lander crashed somewhere in the munar highlands, leaving only a small crater as evidence of its existence.

A silent explosion in the vaccum of space.

Close, but no cigar.

The source of the failure was traced to a fuel valve that had not closed properly. On the next attempt, an additional breaking stage was added to the lander. The launch proceeded without incidents, and Muna 4 was hurled towards the Mun by the second stage of the launch vehicle.

Lift-off of Muna 4.

Heading for space.

Orbital insertion.

Muna 4 arrives at the Mun

After having placed the payload in orbit of the Mun, the second stage fired one last time to begin the descent. It then separated, and the breaking stage took over. Once fuel was depleted, it too separated, and the lander continued on its own engine.

The breaking stage fires and is then jettisoned.

Descending on the lander's engine.

This has not gone well.

Unfortunately, the descent profile had been miscalculated, leading to excessive fuel consumption. Like its predecessor, Muna 4 ran out of juice and crashed into the ground. The loss of two consecutive missions hit the space program hard. If the next attempt also failed, alternative landing methods had to be examined. Once such method, which had already been successfully tested on Kerbin, combined propulsive breaking with inflatable airbags.

The airbags will protect the probe on touchdown.

After landing, the bags are detached.

This seemed the most likely choice if Muna 5, which was identical to Muna 4, was to crash as well.


Whirlwind Mk2, flight testing a new version


While the engineers and scientists were busy worrying about Mun landers, their colleagues in the kerbonaut corps had their hands full with training and field research. For use in this work, an uprated version of the Whirlwind airplane had been delivered. However, before it could be put into service, it had to be tested. Jebediah, the senior test pilot of the group, was given the task.

Taking off from the runway.

Jeb puts the aircraft through its paces.

Flying over the space center.

Although still a bit difficult to land, the plane got the thumbs-up from Jeb.


Coming up next: Training, landings and the end of Emprise

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A Velocity IV rocket launches another lander.


Local science, training continues


While the rest of the space program focused on landing probes on the Mun without crashing them, the kerbonauts continued their training on the ground. Several minor excursions and airborne flights were executed to both prepare the group for upcoming missions, and to further kerbalkind's knowledge of its home planet.

Janson, Gersen and Buzz discussing the task at hand.

Thompdous is ready to get behind the stick of the Whirlwind.

This, we do not speak of.

Bob hard at work... uhm... studing the sky? Counting birds? We have no idea.

When a launch was about to happen, the kerbonauts ceased whatever they were doing and gathered in mission control to watch. The next one was planned for day 265. It would be another attempt at a Mun landing.


Muna 5, third landing attempt


Tension was running high in the block house, as the Velocity IV rocket carrying Muna 5 rolled out to the launchpad. The two previous missions had accomplished little, except adding a couple of new craters to the Mun's already pockmarked surface. Another failure would be a major setback for the space program.

Taking off in cloud of thick smoke.

The launch vehicle carries its payload through the atmosphere.

Burning for the Mun.

Both the launch and the trans-munar injection were carried out successfully. Once it had arrived, the probe entered orbit around the Mun and began the descent. The braking stage fired as planned, burning through its fuel before being jettisoned. Then, the lander's engine lit up. Everyone back on Kerbin crossed their fingers, as they followed Muna 5's journey. At mission control, altitude, speed and remaining fuel were being continuously announced over loudspeakers. All seemed to stay within set parameters.

The breaking stage slows the lander down and is then discarded.

Hopefully, there will be no craters made this day.

Muna 5 has landed!

It worked. About a meter or two above the ground, the engine cut off. A few seconds later, the probe touched down gently in the grey regolith of East Crater. It immediately began transmitting data from the onboard instruments. At mission control, a deafening cheer erupted as the first bits of information were received. The scientific value was not overwhelming, but as a technological achievement, it was huge. The space program had finally managed to make a soft landing on the Mun.


Emprise, saying good bye to the station


After the cheerful Muna 5 celebration, a more somber tone was set during the next big event. One year after launch, it was time for Emprise station to make its suicide dive into Kerbin's atmosphere.

The station's engines are used for the deorbit maneuver.

Burning up in the atmosphere.

The fireball is visible from the KSC.

The space program employees spent the last funds from Jorby Kerman's check to hold a farewell party on the beach, as the station streaked across the sky. Jorby was not invited.


Muna 6, a different approach


Although the intital concept of a powered descent had been proven to work, the idea of using airbags to land on the Mun was still intriguing. Management therefore approved a test flight, using one of the prototypes that had been tried on Kerbin. It also presented an opportunity to test the new Velocity V launch vehicle. This was similar to the original Velocity I, but used a modified booster from the Velocity III as its core stage, placing it in between the two in terms of power.

The new rocket is ready for flight.

Rising through the air.

The upper stage sends the payload towards the Mun.

Despite being overpowered for such a light payload, the new launcher performed excellent. It got the probe into Munar orbit, and even had enough fuel left to initiate the descent. A rocket motor, mounted on the probe itself, was used to reduce the speed before deployment of the airbags. It was then jettisoned, and Muna 6 went into free fall. Hitting the side of a shallow crater, the protected lander bounced a few times, then settled next to a small rock.

Heading for the surface.

After bouncing down a slope, the lander comes to a stop.

There is no more use for the airbags.

The probe has survived the landing.

Being a prototype, Muna 6 carried only a radio beacon and could therefore take no readings from the munar midlands where it had touched down. Yet, it was wildly important as a demonstration of an alternative landing method, which could become useful in future missions.


Coming up next: End of the fourth year

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Ground inspection of a new aircraft.

Muna 7, aiming for the highlands


Since there was still one lander left of the four that had been built, the space program decided to go for the munar highlands again. Although Muna 3 had crashed there, the success of Muna 5 had shown that the concept was valid. Lift-off took place at night and proceeded without incidents. The mission followed the same steps as the previous ones, with the Velocity IV upper stage placing the payload in orbit around the Mun. It then initiated the descent over the target area, after which the breaking stage took over. This was followed by the lander's integrated engine burning for the final part of the landing.

Launching in the dark.

Taking aim for the Mun.

Final descent.

Another successful landing.

Everything went according to plan and Muna 7 made a gentle touchdown in the highland area. From there, it radioed in the data collected by its science package.


Munar Exploration Program, moving forward


Having proved that landing on the Mun was possible, the exploration program entered the next phase with the signing of the Mun Program strategy. This was the commitment to put boots on the ground.



Muna 8, returning a probe from orbit


The next step on the road to a kermanned landing was to get a probe into orbit around the Mun and then return it to Kerbin. This had been done in a limited fashion with the SCAR-4 mission, but that was only a flyby.

Launching on a Velocity V.

Fairing separation.

Trans-munar injection.

Muna 8 successfully entered orbit around the Mun. It remained there for a few days collecting data, before firing its engine for the voyage back.

Returning to Kerbin.

With the engine and fuel tanks jettisoned, the probe is ready to enter the atmosphere.

Reentry and landing.

The probe sinks.

While everything up to and including the landing was succcessful, the mission almost ended in failure when the probe sank to the bottom of the ocean. Luckily, the recovery team was able to retrieve it from a depth of over 300 meters. Using the lessons learned from Muna 8 and the previous landers, the engineers and scientist at the KSC set out to construct a sample return mission.


Palantir Kerbin, government satellite


Earlier in the year, the space program had launched a prototype of the Palantir telescope and imaging system to the Mun. The central government now wanted the finished product to be placed in polar orbit around Kerbin. Once deployed, it would be under government control for 55 days and then handed over to the space program.

The satellite lifts off on a Velocity III.

Heading for polar orbit.

Separation of the fairings and core stage.

The upper stage takes over.

Satellite deployed.

Launch took place on day 371 and proceeded nominally through all stages. The satellite was placed in the required orbit, where it would remain until early the following year.


SilverDart, inspecting a new jet aircraft


Although the Whirlwind aircraft served the space program's Kerbin-based research well, there was a need for a faster long-range vehicle. To fill this role, a SilverDart jet had been aquired. Jebediah was tasked with making a ground inspection of the new plane.

On the runway.

Jeb leaves the cockpit.

Climbing the ladder to the cargo hold.

It's not huge, but there's room for a few scientific instruments.

Jeb approves of the SilverDart.

A flight test was scheduled for next year.


End of Year Report (Y4)


Funds: 1,670,508
Science: 227.9

Vehicle Assembly Building at level 2
Launchpad at level 2
Spaceplane Hangar at level 2
Runway at level 2
Research and Development at level 2
Mission Control at level 2
Tracking Station at level 2
Administration Building at level 3
Kerbonaut Complex at level 3

Construction Time
VAB Rate 1 at 1 BP/s
VAB Rate 2 at 1 BP/s
SPH Rate 1 at 1 BP/s
SPH Rate 2 at 1 BP/s
R&D Devel. at 64 sci/day

P1 Jebediah (3)
P1 Valentina (3)
P1 Phoebe (3)
P1 Wehrsted (1)
P1 Thompdous (1)
P1 Verfal (1)
E1 Bill (2)
E1 Buzz (1)
E1 Ferny (1)
S1 Bob (3)
S1 Gersen (1)
S0 Janson (0)

( ) shows number of space flights


Coming up next: Returning samples from the Mun

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A new probe heading for the Mun.


SilverDart, first flight


The SilverDart jet, which had been purchased late last year, was ready for its first test flight. The crew consisted of Jebediah in the pilot's seat, and Bill as his co-pilot. Their flight plan would take them out over the ocean. They would then turn around and pass the nearby islands, testing the afterburner for a short duration. Once back over land, they were to fly over the KSC and head west for Mount Boostmore, before finally returning to the runway.

Taking off from the runway.

Heading out over the ocean.

The view from Bill's seat.

A sharp turn brings them on a heading back towards land.

Flying over the old island airfield.

A bit too close to the mountainside for Bill's taste.

Jeb's view from the cockpit.

Coming in for the landing.

Not quite aligned.

Well, they came down in one piece at least.

All went well except for the landing. On the first try, they came in to fast and had to circle around for another attempt. The second time around, they weren't properly aligned with the runway, and skidded off it. Fortunately, nothing was damaged or bruised, except Jeb's ego.


SET-1 through 3B, testing the sample return capsule


Before the planned sample return mission could be flown, the return capsule had to be tested. These tests were performed under the newly established Systems and Equipment Test program, the purpouse of which was to merge all prototype testing under a single program. Reentry and landing was the goal of SET-1.

Launching on a Velocity I.

After being placed in orbit by the upper stage, the probe raises its apoapsis.

Reaching the high point.

Screaming through the atmosphere.

Parachute deployed.

A successful landing.

Having survived reentry from an apoapsis of 2,2421 km, the probe made a successfull touchdown on land. This showed that it was capable of returning to Kerbin. Next, a drop test over the ocean would see how it faired in the case of a splashdown.

Ready for take-off.

Heading for the ocean.

Bombs... uh, we mean, probe away!

Wehrsted sets the plane down.

The floatation device wasn't really necessary.

SET-2 almost ended in disaster when Wehrsted, who piloted the Whirlwind, briefly lost control of the plane as he dropped the probe. Luckily, he was able to recover and land back on the runway. The probe itself proved able to stay afloat on the surface, and as a result, the extra floatation device was removed from the design. It was replaced with an airbag that would protect the probe in case of a rough landing. All that remained at this point, was to test the separation from the lander.

The first fully assembled prototype is ready to be tested.

That's not exactly what we had in mind.

A flaw in the release mechanism caused the probe to stay connected to lander as the solid separation motors fired. This led to the liquid fuel in the probe igniting as the tanks were punctured, and the whole thing exploded in a large fireball.

Second test proves more successful.

Third test under way.

The protective airbag inflated correctly.

After some redesign, the system functioned satisfactorily. Work now began on assembling the first lander/probe combination to be launched to the Mun.

Muna 9, first sample return mission


On day 92, Muna 9 stood poised on the launchpad. Its intended landing site on the Mun was East Crater, the same place were Muna 5 had set down the previous year. If all went well, samples collected at the site would be stored in the automated return capsule and brought back to Kerbin for study. At mission control, a final status check showed that all systems were go. The engines of the Velocity IV launch vehicle were brought to life, and seconds later, Muna 9 was on its way.

Taking off from the launchpad.

First stage burns out and separates.

Trans-munar injection.

The empty second stage is separated.

Coming in for the landing.

Another successful touchdown.

From the launch, through the voyage, and all the way up to when the probe settled down in the gray regolith, everything had proceeded according to plan. Mission controllers now held their breath as the collection and storage of samples began. To their relief, this was also successful, paving the way for the most crucial part of the operation; the return home.

The return capsule takes off.

One final engine burn to send the probe home.

Entering the thick atmosphere.

Not much farther to go.


After the capsule had been recovered, the samples were brought to the lab for immediate study.

Coming up next: Preparing Venture for the Mun

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The new Velocity VA launch vehicle is the first to use solid rocket boosters.


Venture 19, first flight of Venture Block 3


A kermanned trip to the Mun required a vehicle more spacious and better supplied than the current Venture. Although a replacement had been in development for some time, it was still far from ready. As an intermediate solution, the Venture platform was expanded with a mission module. This module, attached to the front of the spacecraft, increased the internal volume and added a more extensive life support system. It would be discarded at the end of the mission, prior to reentry. To fit the new module into the current design, it was stowed underneath the spacecraft and had to be extracted manually using a transposition and docking maneuver. Because of this, the first test of the system would have to fly with a crew. Veteran kerbonauts Valentina and Buzz were selected for the ten day mission.

The new version of the spacecraft requires a Velocity IV to reach orbit.

The kerbonauts are pushed back in their seats as the rocket takes off.

Separation of the first stage and launch escape tower.

Once in orbit, the protective panels fall away.

Extracting the mission module.

Cutaway view of the new Block 3.

For ten days, Venture 19 orbits Kerbin.

Burning retrograde.

The mission module is jettisoned, leaving the command module to reenter and land.

The flight of Venture 19 had proven the new hardware addition to the spacecraft. However, while the upgrade did allow for extended missions, some concerns were raised about the complexity of docking with and extracting the mission module. It was decided to hold a second evaluation of the system after a few more flights.


SET-4 and 5, testing command module reentry


The next step in preparing for kermanned Mun missions was to test the Venture spacecraft and its heat shield at high reentry speeds. First, an unkermanned command module was launched on a suborbital flight by a Velocity V rocket. It reached an impressive altitude of 1,286,538m before plunging back into the atmosphere.

Launch of SET-4.

Second stage continues the push for altitude.

Coming back into the atmosphere.

Parachute deployed.

After the successful recovery of SET-4, a second command module was prepared for the ultimate test. Using a Velocity VA, the module was launched on a free return trajectory around the Mun.

SET-5 stands ready on the launchpad.

The solid rocket boosters of the Velocity VA burn out and are separated.

Second stage separates after putting the payload in Kerbin orbit.

The transfer stage performs the trans-munar injection burn.

Going around the Mun.

Falling back towards Kerbin.

Separation of the nose cone and transfer stage.

The command module plows through the atmosphere safely, while the transfer stage burns up.

A successful end to the mission.

With the heat shield rated for munar return speed, the last piece needed to send kerbals to orbit the Mun was finally in place.


Muna 10, another sample return


Following the success of Muna 9, management had approved two additional sampling missions. Muna 10 was launched on day 179. After an uneventful voyage, it landed in the munar highlands.

Launching in the dark of the night.

Trans-munar injection.

Muna 10 has landed.

Having collected the samples, the return capsule separated from the lander and used its own engine to enter orbit around the Mun. The engine then fired again to send the capsule back to Kerbin. At this point, a problem arose. The engine continued to burn well beyond the planned cut-off point. Because the probe was behind the Mun and out of radio contact, mission control could not shut the engine down manually. It wasn't until all available fuel had been consumed that the burn finally ended. While still on a return trajectory, Muna 10 would come in much hotter than planned.

Burning until fuel depletion.

A rough reentry.

Somehow, the capsule is still intact.

Despite pieces of the probe breaking off due to the heat and stress involved in reentry, the sample container and parachute system miraculously survived. After landing, the container was recovered and its content brought back the KSC research lab.


Coming up next: Kerbals to the Mun

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The view that awaits the crew of Venture 20.


SilverDart, first circumglobal flight


The SilverDart airplane and its capabilities had been the focus of much discussion among pilots and engineers at the KSC. Somewhere along the line, these discussions made their way to management where they were formulated into a mission. As a test of the SilverDart's dexterity and range, and also as a publicity event for the space program, a crew would fly the plane around the globe in a single flight. Pilot Verfal and engineer Ferny were selected for the job, which they dubbed "the lowest orbital flight in history".

All fueled up and ready to go.

Spectators at the KSC cheer as the plane passes overhead.

Finding the best cruising altitude.

After a bit of experimenting, Verfal settled on 8,000m as the optimum altitude. From there on, the autopilot would be doing most of the flying. Ferny pointed out that these early maneuvers might have used up to much fuel. Verfal concurred, but in the end, the two decided to continue anyway. If the worst came to the worst, the SilverDart was equipped with ejection seats.

The flight continues without incidents.

Along the way, the crew experience sunsets...

... and sunrises.

As the journey was nearing its end, the earlier misgivings proved correct. There would not be enough fuel to reach the KSC. A decision had to be made fast, but options were limited. Since they had reached the landmass were the KSC was located, the crew could try and find a flat enough area and attempt to land. A recovery team could then set out from the space center and pick them up. However, since it was nighttime and pitch black outside, such a landing would be very dangerous to attempt. A second option was to run the engine until the fuel was depleted, and then glide the rest of the way. The problem with this was that between the airplane's current position and the runway, lay the massive Mount Boostmore. If the crew chose this course of action, they ran the risk of crashing into the mountain. After giving it some thought, Verfal and Ferny agreed on the latter option.

Verfal's limited view.

Out of fuel and gliding.

Aiming for the runway.

Drogue chute deployed.

A perfect landing.

It worked. Thanks to Verfal's piloting skills and the excellent flight characteristics of the SilverDart, the crew made it safely onto the runway. The conclusion of this daring mission made headlines all over Kerbin and led to an increase of applicants to flight schools everywere.


Relayer 1/2, communication satellites


The near failure of Muna 10 had brought to light the importance of proper communication. To remedy this, two relay satellites were to be placed in elliptical polar orbits around the Mun, spaced out so that when one was at its apoapsis, the other would be at periapsis. Launch took place on day 216, using a Velocity III rocket.

A nominal launch.

The satellites and their transfer stage.

Once the payload reached parking orbit around Kerbin, a crippling problem was discovered. The satellites had been equipped with the wrong type of RCS thrusters. Also, no reaction wheel had been installed. These mistakes combined, made it impossible to adjust orientation. Solutions were discussed, but for the time being, Relayer 1 and 2 were dead in the water.


Venture 20, first kermanned flyby of the Mun


The moment everyone had been waiting for was finally here. Kerbals were going to the Mun. However, no landing would be attempted on this first voyage. The goal of Venture 20 was to do a simple flyby to test the equipment in preparation for future trips to Kerbin's natural satellite. If successful, the next mission would see a crew in orbit. For this important task, management wanted two highly experienced kerbonauts. Jebediah, the first kerbal in space, and Bill, the first to do a long duration mission, were chosen. The two had also worked together on the Venture 10/11 mission.

Jeb and Bill make their way to the spacecraft.

3... 2... 1... LIFT-OFF!

Venture 20 soars skywards.

The launch went smoothly, placing the spacecraft in low Kerbin orbit. After final checkouts, the crew received the go for trans-munar injection. The engine of the Velocity IV upper stage lit again, propelling Venture 20 into a free return trajectory around the Mun. Next, Jeb and Bill performed the maneuver to extract the mission module. Once docked, they jettisoned the now useless upper stage.

There's no turning back now.

Transposition and docking.

Getting closer by the minute.

The view from inside the mission module.

Going around the Mun.

As the gravity of the Mun grabbed hold of the spacecraft, the kerbonauts prepared themselves. Time was limited and they had to collect as much data and take as many photographs as they could before being flung back towards Kerbin. The two worked busily until all of a sudden, Bill stopped dead in his tracks. He pointed out the window and uttered in amazement, "Look Jeb! It's Kerbin. It's home." Jebediah looked outside and saw the planet rise above the horizon. "This one's for the history books," he said as he snapped a photo with his camera.


On the way back, it was time for the most important engine burn of the entire mission. This was the burn that would bring Venture 20 into Kerbin's atmosphere. If it failed, the vessel would be stuck in space forever.

Performing the correction burn.

Like a meteorite, the command module descends through the atmosphere.

Splasdown in the dark.

Luckily for the crew, they made it back safely. After having been picked up by the recovery team, they returned home to a hero's welcome. The successful mission was celebrated around the globe as the dawn of a new age in space exploration. Back at the KSC, plans for Venture 21 were already being drawn up.


Coming up next: Attempting a repair in orbit

Edited by SBKerman
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The second Mun mission stands ready on the launch pad.


Venture 21, orbiting the Mun


After the successful completion of the first kermanned flyby of the Mun, a follow-up mission was quickly put together. Venture 21 would enter orbit around the grey satellite and stay there for eight days. Kerbonauts Phoebe and Ferny, the latter fresh off his circumglobal flight in the SilverDart, were selected for this grand undertaking.

The rocket rumbles off the launchpad.

Performing the burn that will send the spacecraft to the Mun.

Extraction of the mission module.

Venture 21 has arrived in munar orbit.

The flight plan was the same as that used by Venture 20 up to the point of reaching the Mun. There, it deviated, as Venture 21 performed a capture burn that placed the spacecraft in a circular orbit. One day later, Phoebe made history when she left the safety of the vessel on the only EVA scheduled for the mission. Using her jetpack, she moved several meters away, her suit essentially acting as a separate spacecraft.

Pheobe performs the spacewalk near the Mun.

Don't wander off too far.

After Pheobe had returned, the crew spent the rest of the time performing experiments and documenting the munar surface below them. As the mission came to an end, the critical burn to send Venture 21 back to Kerbin was executed without incidents.

The crew is ready to return home.

Burning for Kerbin.

Separating the three modules of the spacecraft.

High speed reentry.

This one is going to touch down on land.

While waiting for recovery, Phoebe and Ferny plant a flag to mark the landing site.

For the first time since Venture 2, when Jebediah crash landed in the mountains, a crewed command module came down over land. To the relief of the two kerbonauts involved, it was a far less violent affair than what Jeb experienced. The landing was gentle, and after a few hours, Pheobe and Ferny were back at the KSC.


Venture 22, satellite repair mission


The crippled communication satellites Relayer 1 and 2 were still in orbit of Kerbin. Since nothing could be done about the situation remotely, the decision was to send a crew to attempt a repair in space. Thompdous was chosen as commander, making this the first mission not led by one of the original kerbonauts. He was joined by Buzz who had experience working in microgravity from his time on space station Emprise. On day 285, Venture 22 launched from the space center.

All seems fine at lift-off.

During the ascent, the crew noticed an excessive pitch which the launch vehicle guidance system seemed unable to compensate for. After 1 minute and 13 seconds of flight, it became obvious that the spacecraft would not make orbit, prompting Thompdous to abort the mission. The launch escape tower pulled the command module away from the failing rocket. It made a safe splashdown moments later.

The launch escape system saves the kerbonauts from certain doom.

After a rough flight, the command module lands by parachute.

Thompdous and Buzz were brought back home with only minor injuries. Following the launch failure, management called off any further repair work, declaring the satellites lost. Not long after, Relayer 1 and 2 entered the atmosphere and were destroyed.


Coming up next: Testing new hardware

Edited by SBKerman
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