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Historical Space Race


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I created a challenge for the real-world Historical Space Race, and this mission thread is going to be my entry into that.  It is good manners to actually do the challenge you put forth, so here I am.  A link to the Historical Space Race thread:

I'm playing as the Soviets in this run-through...although I do have time to change my mind and do both at once if I wish.  The first 3 flights in the challenge are Soviet-based, so I could potentially end up doing those and then deciding to also do the Americans.  But, I'm not sure at this point; I'll let fate decide that when I get that far.  Before we get into screenshots and all, the specs of my entry:

  • KSP Version:  1.8.1
  • DLC:  Both (Making History and Breaking Ground)
  • Mods
    • Atmosphere Autopilot
    • BahaSP
    • MechJeb 2
    • Kerbal Alarm Clock
    • Reentry Particle Effect Renewed
    • RN Salyut
    • RN Soviet Probes
    • RN Soviet Rockets
    • RN Soyuz
    • Tantares
    • Tantares LV
    • Trigger Tech

Due to the part mods, this puts the entry into the Fully Modded category.  I'm not sure this challenge is possible in stock without part mods.  Anyhow, a screen shot of my settings:



So, Science games generally have Kerbals all start at level 5 with maximum experience.  And because I'm used to having to level up my Kerbals in-game, I changed that.  So this is Normal...with a twist.

Science Farming

All games start with some form of science farming.  And normally you start by farming the launchpad and the runway.  Not in this one.  With playing the Soviets, I am limited to all launches – which includes science farming – being done at the Desert Complex.  This means no science at the runway.  However, I am able to go EVA at the Desert Complex, and then climb down into the Desert and collect science there.  This allows me to, after farming, unlock Basic Rocketry, Engineering 101, and Survivability.

R-7 Semyorka ICBM


The challenge states that it is not necessary to create and launch this vehicle, but I need the science.  So I recreated the ICBM and launched it, hoping to recreate the flight path; the information for the actual flight path is very limited, and all I could find was that the first successful launch/test traveled 6000 km, or 6 million meters.  There is no data available (that I could find, anyhow) to indicate altitude/Ap, angle of flight, or inclination.  The best information I can find shows that the missile was flown from Baikonour to the Kamchatka peninsula, which is a distance of 6,292 km, and that the missile actually burned up 10 km OVER the target landing spot.

Anyhow, I recreated the R-7 Semyorka to the best approximation that KSP allows.  Here she is in the VAB and on the launchpad:



I must have launched this thing a dozen or more times just to get into orbit.  Those RD-107 and RD-108 engines pack a whole lot of punch, and I found myself overheating and blowing up constantly.  But I did eventually achieve an orbit of 100km:


I tried to recreate the missile blowing up in mid-flight, which it did in real life about 10km over Kamchatka.  But, alas, it crashed into the countryside instead:


I actually overshot the target distance of 6000 km…by quite a bit.  Kerbin is smaller than Earth, and with no in-flight computer to calculate distance or set a target, I had to guess.  But, this counts as a successful launch and test of the R-7 Semyorka, which is not a requirement for this challenge anyhow.  No science is gained as the warhead exploded upon impact, which is what happened in August 1957.

At this point, I am 11.7 science points away from being able to open up General Rocketry, which is where Sputnik I is located.  So I am farming more science from the Desert Complex runway, which allows me to open this node.  There are a multitude of science gadgets in the parts packs that I have installed for this challenge, but I’m not using them; I am going to stick with the stock gadgets unless a specific part is called for on one of the Soviet rockets.  And now with General Rocketry opened, I can start work on Sputnik I.


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With thanks to @Cheesecake, I was able to successfully launch Sputnik I into orbit.  I did, however, have to modify my mod list slightly in order to get things to work; I need to be working with the appropriate parts.  So my mod list now looks thusly:

  • Atmosphere Autopilot
  • BahaSP
  • MechJeb 2
  • Kerbal Alarm Clock
  • Reentry Particle Effect Renewed
  • RN Soviet Probes
  • RN Soviet Rockets
  • Tantares
  • Tantares LV
  • Trigger Tech

Sputnik I


Sputnik I ended up being a bit harder than I originally anticipated, but that is due to using the wrong parts.  I was able to get the rocket close to the original 8K71PS model, but it's a bit off.  The Sputnik I probe I used is from the RN Soviet Probes pack, and it sticks out a bit far for the Andromeda fairing to cover it nice and straight.  I moved the Andromeda down as far as I could, but I still had to go wide at the bottom.



Once I figured out the right parts to use, this bad boy was easy to get to the historical flight.  I'm a bit off on the orbital inclination, but I'm within an acceptable margin of error (historical inclination is 65.1 degrees, and I ended up with 64.825, which is off by 0.275 degrees, or 0.4%).



Sputnik I is known not only for being the first artificial satellite put in orbit by man, but it was also the first object to send radio signals back to Earth.  And the RN probe I used has the capability of taking a crew report AND sending it back to Kerbin.



And that completes the second launch.  Sputnik I is in orbit!

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And I've got a few more updates to my mod list.  This morning I added US Probes and US Rockets, primarily so I can get historical accuracy as I start working along the American lines (which is coming up soon).

Sputnik II



As an aside here, I added an Ara 1KP Barometer and an Ara 35C Thermometer to the satellite.  The historical information states that there were two photometers on board for measuring solar radiation and cosmic rays, and this data was used to verify the existence of the Van Allen Radiation Belt.  The game does not have photometers, so I’m altering the vehicle slightly to incorporate 2 scientific instruments that can be used to gather data.


You will notice that the design is very similar to that of the Sputnik I rocket.  In fact, Sputnik II used a modified version of the 8K71PS that launched Sputnik I.  I had to change the profile of the fairing to house the satellite, which is in line with having a modified version of the original rocket.





Historically speaking, Sputnik II burned up during re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere.  I am not going to go through bringing this puppy back to Kerbin; I nearly ran out of fuel getting this thing up where she belonged.

Interestingly enough, you can see that the inclination is 65.340, which is .01 degrees off historical.  The inclination of Sputnik I is 64.825 (seen in the previous screenshots), which is slightly off from the historical of 65.10.  What is odd here is that, although the inclinations are close, their actual orbits are way off from one another.  This is due to the rotation of Kerbin and launching at different times of the day.  And even launching on different days.

I did the temperature and barometric readings in both LKO and HKO, and I end this with 36.1 science.  Still not enough to unlock anything on the next node, but historically speaking Sputnik I and Sputnik II were launched less than 30 days apart, so it makes sense that the amount of science is limited at this point.  Heck, they barely had time to analyze the data from Sputnik I before they put Sputnik II in space.

And that completes Sputnik II.

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So, to this point, I've been focusing on the Soviet portion of the space race.  Not out of choice, but because the first 3 historical launches that count (all World's Firsts) were done by the Soviets.  So I've been launching strictly from the Desert Complex, which means I have only been able to farm science from that location.  However, with Vanguard I, I get to launch from the KSC, which allows me to farm science at the KSC.  Which I did prior to creating and launching Vanguard I.  Doing this got me enough science to unlock Basic Science and Fight Control (which I seriously need).

Vanguard I



Before we launch, a bit of an adjustment had to be made.  The third stage of the original Vanguard TV-4 use a solid rocket booster, the Grand Central 33KS2800.  The US Rockets pack I am using did not include this part.  It included every other part for the Vanguard rocket, but not this one.  So I substituted with the Star 20 SRB in the hopes that this will do the trick and get me close to the right orbit.




I ended with 40 m/s of dV upon reaching Ap, which tells me that I used a very comparable SRB in place of the one that I could not find.

Also, you'll see that there are 4 orbits in that map view shot, instead of just the three that should be there.  The fourth one is a piece of space junk from the Vanguard TV-4 rocket that I failed to terminate prior to taking the screen shot.  No worries; it means nothing, and I'll be getting rid of it shortly.

And that completes Vanguard I.

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And back to the Soviets.

Luna I


The Luna I probe was launched using a modified 8K71PS rocket (which is itself a modified version of the R-7 Semyorka).  According to the historical information, the rocket included a Magnetometer and 4 Ion Traps.  The magnetometer is nothing more than a weird antenna…but the Ion Traps can be used to collect science data.  At a clip of 0.9 delivered and 0.6 transmitted, this is almost not worth having them.  However, I am going to include the 4 Ion Traps and collect the science from them in the following places:

  • LKO
  • HKO
  • High Mun
  • High Sun

Doesn’t seem like much, but I’m trying to be historically accurate.



I used a Tantares Size 1 Fuel Tank B for the upper stage tank, and a Tantares 0110-A “Litenugle” Rocket Engine as the equivalent to what was used.  The historical flight used a Block-E tank…but there is  no mention of the exact engine that was used or if this was an SRB.  I only have to come within 5900km of the Mun and then eject into the ether, so I’m not worried about having enough fuel.  And the upper stage does not decouple from the probe, so I don’t have to worry about having space junk floating around the Mun.


Historically, the craft came within 5900km of the Moon.  I can get to within 2200km at a maximum Pe, but no farther.  Any farther out than that and I simply don’t come close enough to qualify.


I put the Ion Traps on the first stage…which got ejected when I burned for the Mun.  So no data from those.  Thankfully I should still get probe core crew reports from Mun and Solar.  Anyhow, I’ve entered the Mun’s SOI.






You can kind of see Kerbin in the lower left shadow of the Sun there.  Just a tiny blue dot in a sea of black that Luna I will now forever swim through.

This completes Luna I.

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I've been busy today.

Discoverer I


Discoverer was a code name used for the public’s benefit, under the guise of being used for experiments and scientific data gathering.  What it was, in reality, was an attempt to jump-start a spy program, intent on capturing photographs of the Russians as they worked on their own space and weapons programs.


The parts packs I’m using for some reason don’t include a Discoverer I satellite.  The Thor-Agena A bus was nothing more than a bullet with some radio equipment in it, with no photography gadgets whatsoever.  So I attempted a recreation of this using a Stayputnik I probe on top of an Andromeda VK3, with a Communotron 16 antenna.

In addition to this, there are no early-US Thor rocket parts; I had to put this together using a conglomeration of Thor-Able and Tantares parts to approximate the Thor rocket.  And away we go.



South Pole:


North Pole:


And that complete Discoverer I.

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Explorer VI


This small satellite is responsible for being the first man-made object to take a photograph of the Earth from space.  It had a multitude of scientific gadgets on it, none of which have a KSP equivalent.  The probe was launched using a Thor DM-18 Able III, which I have tried to replicate in the VAB:


So I had to do some serious cobbling to put this together.  Spent more than an hour just inside the VAB on this, and it’s…close.  There are some parts in the parts packs I have installed that are represented here for the original, but I had to take some liberties with the upper stages.  In fact, the real rocket had 3 stages, while this one only has 2; the parts packs do not have Thor-Able third stage tanks or engines.  But this thing is close enough, especially in aesthetic design, so I’m using it.



That is one ridiculous orbit.  If it weren’t for the inclination of 47 degrees, we would run the risk of not only running into the Mun, but also potentially being influenced by Minmus’ gravity.


That’s about halfway between Pe and Ap, headed towards Ap.  Not the best shot, but it doesn’t help that Explorer VI is black.

One thing to point out is all the junk in space right now.  You see that map view orbit shot?  All of those orbits are satellites from this challenge that haven’t decayed.  I could very well clean them up, and I will probably do so as we get into the 1960s.  But it makes you think about how much stuff we’ve put up into the skies, doesn’t it?

And that completes Explorer VI.

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Luna II


Luna II has the distinction of being the first man-made object landed on the Moon.  And not in a very pretty fashion; this satellite did a hard landing at 3.3 m/s without an orbit.  That’s right, this little girl was shot directly at the Moon and landed without the benefit of doing a few passes first.

Luna II used effectively the same 8K72 rocket that Luna I used, so there is very little that changed in the VAB for this one.  I’m not going to give shots from the VAB and/or the launchpad as the rocket is exactly the same.

I did make one small change, other than swapping probes, and that was to put the Ion Trap on the probe itself.  So now I can take Ion measurements from HKO, High Mun, Low Mun, and Mun Surface.  It is important to note that the historical probe did NOT take temperature or pressure readings of any kind.  This means that the thermometer and barometer stay home.





I landed at approximately 8 m/s, going sideways, in the dark.  Unfortunately, I cannot find anything that shows me the flight data other than the standard F3 screen, and that doesn’t give landing speed.  But, I did land on the Mun with a direct trajectory without blowing up.

And that completes Luna II.

Edited by Scarecrow71
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22 hours ago, Akagi said:

man how is that even POSSIBLE

A lot of luck, really.  She landed in the dark.  Sideways.  At ~8 m/s.  On a freaking incline.  Sometimes you just get lucky.  Keep in mind, though, that anything above 2 m/s would have qualified for the hard landing; I simply came in that hot because there was no light to see by, and I had to guess using the altimeter at the top of the screen.  And I had to fast-forward almost an entire day just to get enough light to take a picture for the challenge requirement.

On that note...Luna III.


Luna III was the first satellite to use a gravity assist on the moon, slingshotting itself from south to north around the far side of the Moon back to Earth.  It was also the first satellite to take pictures of the far side of the moon Moon and transmit them back to Earth.

The historical information on the actual flight of the satellite is a bit contradictory.  The orbital inclination is stated as 55 degrees, but it isn’t stated if this is before heading towards the Moon or after the plane change from the gravity assist happened.  It is also stated that the satellite launched and flew directly over the north pole, which would be an inclination of 90 degrees counter-clockwise.

The satellite was launched on another 8K72 rocket, so there will be no images from the VAB or launchpad again.  It flew to within 6200km of the Moon, which cannot be done in KSP; the Mun does not have an SOI that large as was determined during the launch of Luna I.  Furthermore, in order to get the most out of the gravity assist, we will have to get pretty darned close to the Mun or we risk being ejected into a solar orbit.

The planned maneuver to transfer to the Moon:


And the actual flight after the burn:


Shots from the far side of the Mun (South Pole/Pe and the Equator):



And back in Kerbin’s SOI:


And the plane change did in fact happen; we have moved from a 90 degree inclination to a 65 degree inclination.  And the Pe changed as well, from 100km to 3850km.  Historically, it is believed that the satellite eventually burned up in the Earth’s atmosphere.  It is entirely possible, after seeing the plane change and new Ap/Pe, that the satellite may actually impact upon the Mun’s surface, or it may get ejected into solar orbit if further impacted by the Mun’s SOI.

That completes Luna III, as well as the 1950s.  Here are the decay dates of the satellites launched in the 1950s:

  • Sputnik I:  4 JAN 1958
  • Sputnik II:  14 APR 1958
  • Vanguard I:  Sometime in 2198
  • Luna I:  Unknown.  Last contact 1 JAN 1959
  • Discoverer I:  17 March 1959
  • Explorer VI:  1 JUL 1961
  • Luna II:  Unknown.  Radio signals sent to Earth 14 SEP 1959, but no further information given
  • Luna III:  29 APR 1960

The first launch in the 1960s was Discoverer 13 on 11 AUG 1960.  Therefore, I will be cleaning up several of these satellites to remove them from orbit prior to first launch in the 1960s.

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And I'm on a roll this morning.  Discoverer XIII.


This satellite has the distinction of being the first object that orbited the Earth to be successfully recovered after re-entry.  It used a Thor DM-21 Agena-A rocket, and as we discovered (no pun intended) during Explorer I, the parts packs do not have exact replicas of either the satellite or the rocket parts for these early American launches in some cases.  So I’m going to use the same rocket that we used in the Explorer I launch, but I’ll be modifying the satellite to include a heat shield, a drogue chute, and a Mk1 parachute.  Looks thusly in the VAB:


The satellite orbited Earth 17 times before returning to Earth, splashing down in the Pacific Ocean.  It was supposed to have been recovered mid-flight, but the plane went the wrong direction.  Anyhow, here we are in flight (had to take this shot with the Mun right there), in orbit, and then followed by descent and splashdown:






Yeah, I know, I didn’t get this thing in the water.  That orbital inclination does not mesh well with the watery bodies on Kerbin’s surface.  But I was able to successfully launch and recover this one.

I also cleaned up the satellites in orbit based upon the decay dates in the previous posts.  Had to; it was getting cluttered up there!

This completes Discoverer XIII.

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Well, I'm just flying now.  Discoverer XIV.


A continuation of the Discoverer/Corona program, this satellite returned the first spy photographic images of the Soviet Union back to the United States.  It was almost a colossal failure, the rocket spinning uncontrollably during the first orbit, until the satellite somehow corrected itself.  The SRV that contained the images was jettisoned and sent back to Earth while the satellite itself stayed in orbit; the SRV was retrieved in mid-air, while the satellite itself burned up during re-entry.

I have discovered (no pun intended) that the KH-9 Small Film Return Capsule functions as a probe.  So I substituted that for the Stayputnik, added a parachute and some batteries, as well as an antenna, and connected it to the rocket:


Notice that it’s the same Thor DM rocket being used; the US used the same rocket style for a lot of its missions, which makes sense when you think about the amount of money that was dumped into the space program.  Anyhow, I added a small film capsule to the satellite, as well as a parachute that should deploy and land the capsule safely.  The primary concern here is to get a shot somewhere above the Desert Complex; the challenge rules state you do not have to recover this capsule in mid-flight.  That would just be…problematic.

Orbit, and a shot of the target area:





The first shot of the target area is at (near) Pe, with the area on the left; the second shot of the target area is at (near) Ap, with the area on the right.  Because of when I launched, the target area was always going to be in that near-dark spot where the sun is rising but isn’t quite there yet.

And now back in the water:



I was finally able to recover this thing when it hit 0 meters above land.  That’s right, it sank all the way to the bottom of the ocean.


And that completes Discoverer XIV.

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Korabl-Sputnik II


Known in the west as Sputnik V, this was the first capsule to send living organisms into space and recover them alive.  Historically speaking, this was literally nothing more than a radio-controlled capsule large enough (barely) to house a couple of dogs and some plants for a limited amount of time.  It flew on a slightly modified 8K72 rocket, modified only to include more fuel to account for the larger payload.  We aren’t going to modify the rocket any as it should have enough dV to get into orbit and back, but we do need to create the satellite/module itself:


The command module is empty, with the Stayputnik providing flight control.  The command module is empty because KSP doesn’t have non-Kerbal lifeforms available to send into space.  And away we go into orbit:



And now descent and recovery:



And that completes Korabl-Sputnik II.

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For starters, I’ll state that I skipped Mercury-Redstone II as it is optional due to being redundant with the Korabl-Sputnik II.  Furthermore, I had an issue trying to create the Mercury capsule and the Redstone rocket.  For these reasons, I skipped MRII (which is acceptable per the challenge rules).

Venera I, Pre Fly-By


Venera I is the first satellite/probe to do a fly-by of another planet.  The satellite was launched using a modified version of the R-7 Semyorka, the 8K78 model.  This model added a stage between the core and payload stages, which allowed for the satellite to be launched from LEO towards Venus, with the possibility of doing a mid-course correction.  Unfortunately, radio contact was lost with the probe prior to the actual fly-by, so no data was returned.  However, to satisfy the parameters of this challenge, I will provide a screenshot of the probe as it flies by Eve.

What is interesting about the Venera I is that it was launched and sent on its way to Venus, but launches by the Soviets and the Americans happened prior to the scheduled fly-by.  This means that I will have to complete all of the flights in the following order to assume that Venera I is complete:

  • Launch of Venera I (Soviet)
  • First Human spaceflight (Vostok I; Soviet)
  • First pilot-controlled spaceflight (Freedom VII; American)
  • First planetary fly-by (Venera I; Soviet)

So, we start with Venera I, modifying the rocket used for the previous Luna and Sputnik launches:


I added a stage between the core and upper, utilizing a Tantares Size 1 Fuel Tank C and an RD-0110A Litenugle engine.  I also had to cobble together a probe for this one; the original Venera I was a cylindrical block with a dome on it, with 2 solar panels and a host of gadgets for orientation…as well as a thermometer.  So I used a Stayputnik on top of a Opal 06-A Control Block, with a pair of Opal Solar Wings, an Ara 35C Thermometer, and an Opal High Gain Antenna.  Remember that this thing is supposed to lose contact about 2 weeks after launch from LKO, so it’s not like we are gonna recover this thing.  And now, let’s get into LKO at the historical Ap/Pe of 282km x 229km.




Americans aren’t the only ones who can take spy photographs!  And now we plot the course to Eve:


More than a year away from the current date.  Keep in mind that the historical launch of Venera I happened nearly 4 years after the first ICBM test flight, so it’s nothing to think that we have to auto-warp a year and change out before we hit the next transfer window.  And contact wasn’t lost with the satellite until 2 weeks after launch from LEO, so we are still good.  Set that alarm and fast-forward to the window.


We’ve got an initial Pe of 3.2 million meters, which is fine.  The ship was originally designed to make mid-course corrections, and we’ve got 14 days to make a correction to get this thing closer.  After that 14 day window, however, I can’t touch the satellite if I want to keep this accurate.  Then again, I am going to take shots of Eve when I get close even though historically they got nothing out of this, but hey, it’s KSP.  One last screen shot of this mission for the time being, and that’s after a mid-course burn before the 2 week window is up:


This was about 12 days after launch from LKO, so within that 2 week window.  We’ve achieved a Pe of 112.8km, which will give us a decent shot of Eve when we get there.  Now it’s just time to set an alarm and get on with the next mission.

Vostok I


This is probably the single most important mission in the history of the space program as it marks the first human flight into orbit.  Yuri Gagarin became the first person ever to get into a capsule, go up into orbit, and then get back to Earth safely.  No other achievement in the history of the space program is as important as this, and that includes the Moon landing.

An important piece of this flight is that Gagarin did NOT land with the capsule.  Instead, he ejected from the capsule at some point during re-entry and parachuted down to the ground.  Therefore, for historical purposes, this will also be done.  The rocket used was a Vostok 8K72K, which itself is a modified derivative of the R-7 Semyorka line of rockets (all of which have been used to this point).  So we end up with the following in the VAB:


The parachute on top of the command pod is supposed to be for aerodynamics, but it may come in handy.  That is, I may end up being able to recover the pod separately from our poor Kerbal that goes into this thing and ejects during reentry.  In addition to that, we’ve removed the second/middle stage entirely; we have plenty of dV without it to get into orbit and back onto Kerbin safely.  Ah, if only they had the power of computing in the 1960s that we have today.

Anyhow, we get to the launch pad:




And now a few shots of descent and landing.  This ought to be interesting!



Interestingly enough, I tried to EVA with Bob and parachute down…but no parachute option was available.  I tried to EVA when this thing got on the ground, but I kept getting the message that no EVA option was available.  I’m not sure what happened here, but it is what it is.  First Kerbal flight is a success.

Freedom VII


This was the first crewed mission for the Americans, and it was done with a piloted-controlled capsule.  The big difference between this and Vostok I, however, is that Freedom VII did not orbit the Earth; the flight was sub-orbital, lasting only 15 minutes in length.  Ap for this flight was a mere 187.5km, with the pilot (Alan Shephard) landing in the North Atlantic Ocean some 487.3km away from the launch site.

The rocket used was a Redstone MRLV MR-7, which is a pretty basic rocket. Simply put, there’s a capsule sitting on a tank with a Rocketdyne A-7 engine.  Sitting atop the capsule is an LEV that, in this case historically, was not used.  We get the following in the VAB:


This is about as close as I can get to an MRLV without learning Blender and having to craft my own parts.  Which I do not want to do.  This challenge is so much easier for the Soviets than it is for the Americans.  I know that there are some parts packs out there that deal with the Americans…but they aren’t put together very well.  Odd.  Anyhow, here we are on the launch pad, in flight, and after splashing down:







I don’t think I went the full 487.3km in distance, but I did at least land in the water!

Venera I, Fly-By


And would you look at that?  We are back to Venera I and her fly-by of Venus.  Or, in this case, Eve.  Again, historically, it is assumed that the satellite actually did a fly-by; it cannot truly be confirmed as radio contact with the satellite was lost 2 weeks after launch from LEO.  But, in KSP, we can at least get shots as she gets close enough to do the fly-by.



That first shot is about an hour out from Pe, while the second one is about 5 minutes out from Pe.  I didn’t wait to get to Pe to take the second shot because the satellite would have been on the dark side of Eve, and that doesn’t make for good photography.

And that completes Venera I, Vostok I, and Freedom VII.

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Did a couple of missions this morning, trying to get up to what is going to be the most difficult thing I think I've ever attempted in KSP.

Vostok II


This was the first crewed mission to orbit more than the 1 time set by Yuri Gagarin, and it would not be a feat equaled or surpassed until Atlas 9 in 1963.  Gherman Titov circled the globe 17 times during the flight, and after a small bout of space sickness he returned to Earth in perfect health.

The flight used essentially the same setup as Vostok I, which is an 8K72K rocket with a command module atop it.  For the purposes of this flight I will not be providing any screen shots of the VAB or launch pad as it is identical to Vostok I.  I will, however, provide shots of the orbit, as well as the flight data once the pod has touched down.




The craft circled Kerbin 18 times, which is 1 more than the historical flight; this is because I couldn’t stop the fast-forward time warp at the right moment.  But, it’s close enough to work.  Due to Kerbin’s much shorter day/night cycle, the craft was in orbit for 2 days; historically, Titov was in orbit for just over 1 day.  Again, close enough to count.

Vostok VI


This flight is significant as it is the first female to go into orbit.  And at that, the single passenger, Valentina Tereshkova, was a civilian and not a member of the Soviet military.  Like all Vostok crewed missions, Valentina ended up having to eject and land with her parachute instead of touching down with the craft.  For the purposes of this challenge, I’m not doing that; I’m landing all of the capsules with their crew inside.  Not entirely historically accurate, but it works for the purposes of this challenge.

Again, the rocket used is an 8K72K with a command pod on it, much like all of the earlier Vostok missions.  So, once again, no shots of the VAB or launch pad, but I will have shots or orbit and landing.  And although she was a civilian, Valentina did in fact control the pod during flight at periods.  So I’ll be using…Valentina Kerman to fly this thing.




This is the last flight in the Vostok line of spacecraft; the Vostok program suffered cutbacks as a precursor to the retooling of this program into the Voskhod program.

Mars I


This was the first satellite in the Soviet Mars Probe program, designed to do a close fly-by of Mars at a Pe of 11,000km.  The probe was launched on the same 8K78 rocket that was used to launch Venera I, with the same ability to launch from LEO towards its destination, as well as having the capacity to perform mid-course corrections.  The probe was actually launched 7 months prior to Vostok VI, and it is assumed to have done the fly-by of Mars just 3 days after Valentina launched.  Unfortunately, radio contact was lost with the probe 3 months before the scheduled fly-by, so the actual date of the fly-by and its Pe are educated guesses.  For the purposes of this challenge, I’ll still provide screenshots of the fly-by of Duna even though no science will be transmitted back.

The Mars I probe is very similar to the Venera I probe, with the exception that Mars I had radiators that would be deployed as it approached Mars due to the low Pe on fly-by.  Because of this, Venera I has been modified to include small radiators:


There is no data on the actual launch parameters (inclination, Ap, Pe), so I’m duplicating what was done for Venera I.



The transfer window is in 371 days, so a bit of fast forwarding needs to happen.  The Pe set on this right now is 59000km, but I know that will change once we get to the transfer window.  Not to mention that we get to do a course correction to get to the final Pe of 193000km.


As you can see, we ended up with a Pe of 1053454m, which is just a bit outside for the final Pe.  And we are coming in on the back (dark) side of Duna, and I’ll want to correct that mid-course to get a better shot in the sun.  So we’ll fast forward to about half-way to our target and plot a correction.


A little closer than historical, but not too shabby.  And we were able to get this onto the brighter side of Duna for the approach, so I’ll be able to get a decent shot or two here.






So, four shots here.  The first one was yet another course correction; thanks to Ike having a really large SOI, I had to reposition the satellite as I was about to pass by.  The other three are, in order:

  • 1 hour prior to Pe
  • At Pe
  • 1 hour after Pe

I wanted to get that third shot because Ike is photo-bombing me here.  Anyhow, Mars I is now on a course to get into solar orbit and…well, historically, we assume stay there.

And that gets me up through Mars I.

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And quite possibly the hardest mission I've ever undertaken.  I'll be honest and up front and say that this did not live up to historical expectations, nor did it end the way it honestly should have.  I may end up trying to pull this off again multiple times, but for now, I'm calling this one complete.

X-15 Flight 90


This flight has the distinction of being the first reusable spaceplane, with the X-15 being dropped from a Boeing B52 super-fortress at an altitude of 30,000m and then gaining an altitude of 106km.  It then came back into the atmosphere and landed safely at Edwards AFB.

I don’t design spaceplanes in KSP, and I have flown about 3 planes total in the game.  And now I’m tasked with flying 2 of them at the same time.  Because I’m not a plane designer, I had to go to KerbalX and download the following replica for this challenge:


I will also be up front and state that I had to load this in a Sandbox game and not the Science game I am currently working on for this.  Although the craft is stock, it contains parts that I simply don’t yet have access to.  I’ve already altered the rules for the challenge to allow people to run Sandbox games for this, so I do not believe that switching to sandbox for this flight is a big deal.  If anyone does have an issue, please talk to me so we can discuss!



This thing flies TERRIBLY.  The added weight of the X-15 on the right wing caused the plane to tilt right during takeoff, which wrecked one of the engines.  Because of both of those things, the plane won’t stay straight in the air, and it starts coming back to the ground at about 7500m.  Neither Ascent Guidance nor Aircraft Autopilot would work here, so I staged the X-15 at this point.  Poor Jeb and Bill.






So I impacted the water at 60 ms, and Valentina and her capsule survived.  This isn't a completely reusable plane as most of it is destroyed, but I'll take this as a win considering I don't fly planes.  The one thing I may do here is alter the B52 slightly to account for the mass of the X-15 on the right side, and I may do that by simply putting another X15 on the left side to balance it out.  As far as the X15 itself goes, I didn't realize it before the flight but several things were off with it:

  1. The drogue chute gets ejected when you stage the structural piece.  This makes the chute useless.
  2. There are no wheels on the X15.  So how do you land this thing properly?
  3. It has barely enough fuel to get to the target height when launching at 7500m.  I know it should launch at 30000m, but I simply could not get the Balls 8 that high off the ground in this game.

All told, I'm chalking this one up as completed.  I'll take the win knowing that I:

  • Flew a plane
  • Flew the X15
  • Hit the target height
  • Got Valentina home safely.

This completes X-15 Flight 90

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29 minutes ago, Scarecrow71 said:

with the X-15 being dropped from a Boeing B52 super-fortress at an altitude of 30,000m and then gaining an altitude of 106km

Ain't no way a B52 ever reached 30,000 m.  I'd guess about 45,000 feet would be about as high as you could get a B52.  That works out to about 13,800 m.  So don't worry that you couldn't reach 30,000 m with your B52.  There is just no way any real B52 ever got that high, especially with the drag of an X15 hanging off the side.


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22 minutes ago, 18Watt said:

Ain't no way a B52 ever reached 30,000 m.  I'd guess about 45,000 feet would be about as high as you could get a B52.  That works out to about 13,800 m.  So don't worry that you couldn't reach 30,000 m with your B52.  There is just no way any real B52 ever got that high, especially with the drag of an X15 hanging off the side.


You are correct.  I have been having to hunt down information (which is almost as fun as the challenge itself) and I read the wrong paragraph.


The X-15 had an original planned altitude of 31000m, and I interpreted that as the drop height.  Either way, the craft i used had problems getting to and maintaining 7500m, or just over half what I should have gotten before drop.  But the X-15 did reach the target altitude of 106km.

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1 hour ago, Scarecrow71 said:

I have been having to hunt down information (which is almost as fun as the challenge itself)

I agree.

Gotta admit I’m cheating a little, I work as a pilot, so it was pretty easy for me to wonder why someone was trying to get a turbojet aircraft to 30,000 m.  Those little Juno engines struggle to reach 10 km, then they’re pretty much done.  Which is fairly realistic.


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And a couple more missions today.

Syncom II


Syncom II was the first satellite to be placed in a geosynchronous orbit.  This means that the satellite was positioned in such a way to have its speed match the speed of the Earth, and rotating in the same direction.  The big thing about this launch is that the final inclination of the satellite is 33 degrees, which (over the course of time and tracking) appears to give it the figure-8 orbit line across the face of the earth.

The big issue with this flight is that in the real world, a geosynchronous orbit happens at ~34100km, or 34,100,000m above the surface of the earth.  If we do that here in KSP, we run the risk of our satellites being impacted by the SOI of Minmus, which is out at 44500000m above the surface of Kerbin.  So we are going to put Syncom II into a keosynchronous orbit at an inclination of 33 degrees and an altitude of 2870km, or 2,870,000m (roughly).  Speed here will need to be approximately 1008.3 m/s, which is easily achievable through overshooting the Pe slightly and then retrofiring to get into Pe and speed parameters.

Syncom II was a very simple, very basic satellite.  It was essentially a cn with antenna on it, 1 pointed out and away from the engine, and 2 set near the engine, and it was covered with solar cells.  We don’t have the option to cover an exterior with solar cells, so the satellite will be going up as it is without them.  It was launched on the Thor Delta B rocket, which is essentially the same rocket used to launch Explorer VI, except that it included the upgraded AJ10-118D upper stage and some fancy guidance systems.  We don’t need to add this upper stage as we will have plenty of dV to launch this thing without it.  A shot of the satellite in the VAB and on the launchpad prior to getting into orbit:





I realized after I decoupled this thing from the rocket that keosynchronous orbit is 2870km, not 2780km.  I'm close enough to count, but I could kick myself for missing that small detail.  I think I'm just going too fast at times.

Syncom III


This is an exact replica of Syncom II, except that the satellite is in geostationary orbit.  This means that the inclination of the launch is at 0 degrees, and the satellite orbits along the equator.  Because of this, I’m only going to show images from orbit, and not the launchpad or VAB (as that is duplicative and redundant with the launch I just did).



See, that's what happens when you pay attention.  This one is pretty darned close to what we truly need.

And that completes Syncom II and Syncom III.

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And quite possibly one of the easiest flights I'll do in this challenge.

Voskhod II


This was the first manned flight where someone went on EVA.  Outside the command module for the first time ever in space.  The pod was effectively, in KSP terms, a Pea or an Onion with a few antenna and some solid retrorockets sitting atop a Molniya rocket.  In addition to this, an inflatable airlock was added to the module to allow for the crew to go on spacewalks.  Interestingly enough, while KSP has an inflatable airlock part, it is not only not used in this fashion, but it is so far down the tech tree that it is way off from where I’m at with science considering I’m not loading up on gadgets on every flight (attempting to keep things historical, as it were).

Interestingly enough, the Molniya rocket that is used is a continuation of the R-7 line of rockets that have been used by the Soviets to this point.  It seems the Soviets found their rocket of choice and stuck to that.  The rocket used here is nothing more than an 8K78 with the Voskhod command module sitting atop it.  However, in the case of the Voskhod command module, the upper section needs to have fairings on it for aerodynamic purposes, which ends us up with this:


And a few shots from space with our crew on EVA, followed by a successful reentry:







The first 2 shots on EVA are Jeb at Ap, while the second 2 are Bill at Pe.  Historically, only 1 crew member - Alexei Leoniv - went on EVA during this flight.  For our purposes, though, I decided to have one go at Ap and one go at Pe.  Because, you know, why not?

And this completes Voskhod II.

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Ever have one of those days where everything seems to go right...but then KSP says "You ain't seen nothing yet"?

Gemini III


This was the first crewed spaceflight to not only manually and intentionally change the size of orbit, but also to change the inclination during orbit.  This is important as it would pave the way for crewed missions to make corrections during flight to the Moon.  The craft started with an orbit of 225km Ap/161km Pe with an inclination of 32.6 degrees, and ending with an orbit of 229km Ap/158km Pe with an inclination of 32.58 degrees.  It’s not much of an inclination change, but it was something.

Gemini III is nothing more than a 2-person command module sitting atop a modified Titan missile.  The Titan II GLV is a 2-stage rocket, with the first stage powered by an LR87 engine and the second powered by an LR-91.  We have both of these engines from the US Rockets pack, so we end up with the following rocket:


It’s close.  I’m not sold on how the second stage looks right there, but it’ll do.  Anyhow, the flight shots!




I overshot the change in inclination by a couple of degrees, but it still shows that I changed planes AND that I hit the required Ap/Pe markers.  And now on the ground:


I could have sworn I put a heat shield and a decoupler on this thing.  But the exploding tank in mid-air says otherwise.  Thankfully I still got this thing down on the ground.

And that completes Gemini III.

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I'll state once again that I have no idea how the early space pioneers did things without the benefit of super-computers.

Gemini VI-A/Gemini VII


Together, these 2 crewed spaceflights were the first craft to rendezvous in orbit, achieving a distance of ~1 foot away from each other with the capacity to dock had they had docking ports.  Each craft is essentially a copy of the Gemini III, sitting atop a Titan II GLV rocket, and launched at different times so as to test rendezvous capabilities.  Pretty simple.

I made a few modifications for Gemini VI-A.  Namely, I added a heat shield and a decoupler under the materials bay, as well as adding a couple of Juno II SRB’s to help slow down during descent (which is in parameters here; the command pods in this time period generally had retrorockets that fired during reentry).




Gemini VII has been modified to remove the materials bay altogether (there is no need to collect materials data in LKO twice), as well as add the decoupler and heat shield to the command pod.




Can somebody explain to me why the shot of Gemini VII in the VAB has a decoupler right before the parachutes, but now once it's in flight it doesn't have one?  Cuz I have no idea.

Gemini VII was the target for rendezvous, so that’s what we are going to do here.  We will set this up so that Gemini VI-A comes to rendezvous with Gemini VII, using Gemini VII as the target vessel.  Bi-Impulsive transfer, then matched velocities:




That’s a shot from the inside of Gemini VII.  Looks like a reflection in a giant eyeball.  Not the best shot, but it will work.  Gemini VI-A on the ground, followed by Gemini VII.



It took 3 passes to land Gemini VI-A due to being way low on fuel.  Like, barely enough to get under 70km.  And then, when I was landing Gemini VII, I had to jettison the shroud and eventually the shield itself to slow down enough to open the chutes.  I can’t imagine how fast I’d get fired if I was doing this for real.

And this completes Gemini VI-A/Gemini VII.

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