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Get twice the amount of junk in space with the Gemini Class cargo transport! This unmanned stock SSTO spaceplane has twin cargo bays and can deliver a 2x5.6 t payload to a 100x100 km orbit. Been sitting on this one for a while, but after some recent tweaking I think it's good to go. The Gemini is a bit more tricky to handle than my other craft, but if you think you're up for it, grab the craft file at KerbalX here. :)








Edit: Post 500! That's a personal record as far as forum posts go :cool:

Edited by Yakuzi
500th post y'all!
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@Yakuzi I'm liking what I see with the Katatoechi, going to give that beastie a try! I've been looking to replace the rockets I'm using for my routine USI-LS resupplies and I like that plane's payload specs, plus it just looks great.

How do you guys figure out these things' ascent profiles? Half the time when I build a rocket the test flight goes perfectly without any tweaks, but I have never made a working spaceplane. Even my large attempts usually handle fine, but even when I get a good TWR going I think I'm just flying them wrong.

Edited by saxyomega90125
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Here are my two favourite SSTOs. Both full stock.

Both are slightly unconventional, but mainly they just work -- they do the job they're supposed to do with a minimum of fuss, and they're highly versatile at it. 

First, the Pelican 2: a flatbed medium lifter. Craft: https://kerbalx.com/Brikoleur/Pelican-2

The primary mission is lofting fuel from Laythe surface to orbit. Secondary missions include delivering Laythe kosmodrome modules to and from orbit, remote-controlling drone operations, recovering craft from orbit, and lofting medium-mass, medium-volume cargo from KSC to LKO. It's capable of lifting about 40 tons to LKO, or a cargo volume that fits in a 5.3 metre diameter fairing or smaller. 

On a routine fuel run from Laythe:


The Pelican 2 handles extremely well in all conditions; only complication is mild thrust torque issues with some payloads, which can usually be resolved simply by running the engines at half throttle. If necessary some of them can be shut down to further reduce it. While it's not the slipperiest plane in the hangar, it has sufficient aerodynamic efficiency to easily get into orbit with its intended payload masses. 

The Pelican 2 is currently in service on Laythe and standard operations between KSC and LKO.

Lofting a cargo module to LKO:


Second, the Wangari Maathai: a heavy lifter that's a rocket on the way up and a plane on the way down. Craft: https://kerbalx.com/Brikoleur/Wangari-Maathai

The Maathai is a fully recoverable SSTO heavy lifter, capable of payload masses up to about 100 tons and very high volumes. The craft launches ballistically with the payload on the nose, like a conventional rocket; once it has deployed the payload, it discards the fairings in front of its nose, re-enters, and glides back home. If not re-entering empty, you might need to pump some fuel backward to maintain a steep-enough pitch to 35 km altitude or so; other than that, both take-off and return are easy. Because it returns like a glider and lands horizontally, it's relatively easy to recover it precisely from the runway.

It's recommended to execute the launch facing "backward" as the lift from the wings will naturally pull it into a gravity turn, with minimal additional control input required. It is pleasant to handle both in ballistic and aerodynamic flight, although be careful touching down as with its large volume and low weight it bounces easily which can lead to crashes.




The Maathai also works as a launch platform for non-Kerbin-capable spaceplanes. Here it has just lofted up the Cyclone, a full-VTOL cargo hauler based on the Pelican 2, but designed for Duna and not having sufficient TWR or dV to reach orbit from Kerbin under its own power.



Edited by Guest
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On 2/28/2018 at 6:58 AM, saxyomega90125 said:

@Yakuzi I'm liking what I see with the Katatoechi, going to give that beastie a try! I've been looking to replace the rockets I'm using for my routine USI-LS resupplies and I like that plane's payload specs, plus it just looks great.

How do you guys figure out these things' ascent profiles? Half the time when I build a rocket the test flight goes perfectly without any tweaks, but I have never made a working spaceplane. Even my large attempts usually handle fine, but even when I get a good TWR going I think I'm just flying them wrong.

Thanks for the feedback saxyomega, I'm curious to hear how you go with the Katateochi!

Concerning figuring out the ascent profiles, in the end it really comes down to trial and error. However, there are some strategies that you can apply to speed up the process. I found in KSP 1.3.x, starting off with a 10 degree ascent profile works quite well. Then adjust the initial attitude based on your craft performance. Ideally, you'll want to go as shallow as possible so you can build up as much horizontal speed in airbreathing mode, but you don't want to go so shallow that your craft starts burning up. Other people say building up speed at sea level and then pitching up somewhat more aggressively works really well, for my creations it's not the best solution however.

Mark Thrimm made a pretty good tutorial about designing SSTO spaceplanes in KSP 1.3.x, please note however that he doesn't take drag into account in his calculations. In my experience drag is a vital factor in making your designs achieve orbit effectively and efficiently. One of the bottlenecks for SSTO spaceplanes is punching through the sound barrier: if your craft has trouble gaining speed between the 340 to 400 m/s range, you either have to 1. make your ascent profile more shallow, 2. reduce drag, 3. add more TWR in that speed range (ideally with air-breathing engines), 4. a combination of the above.
As a general rule: Mk2 parts are a lot more draggy than any other parts for their size/mass, the Whiplash or Panther engines are very effective for punching through the sound barrier if your craft struggles. Empty attachment nodes create a lot of drag, so put nosecones/air intakes on empty nodes. Also, you don't want to stray too much from the prograde vector whenever you are in the atmosphere while trying to build up speed.

Finally some really handy tools that make building SSTOs easier (and more rewarding):

  • KER - doesn't really need an introduction; flight info is good info! :wink:
  • CorrectCOL - sweeps the center of lift across speed and angle of attack for pitch and yaw, both when your craft is fueled and empty
  • RCSBuildAid - not as essential as CorrectCOL, but very handy for evaluating the center of mass shift during operation of your craft (without having to drain and refill your craft's fuel tanks all the time).

Good luck with designing your first SSTO spaceplane @saxyomega90125, personally, there's nothing quite as rewarding as getting a fully reusable craft to orbit and back! Let me know how you go, if your run into any problems, feel free to send me a PM or ask the many other helpful and knowledgeable people that are part of this amazing community! :)

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Is cheap and does need high research elements such as R.A.P.I.E.R. engine but still perfect in its role mission task: safely bring a 3 member crew to/from any Orbital Kerbin station without refuelling.

It reach  100/100 LKO with remaining 1300 ms  of DV enough to reach also any Mün or Minmus station.

Safe. the orbiting ascend is made in only four manoeuvres:

  • a) take off rotation to 10° ascend angle, 
  • b) switch to aereospike at 1380 ms
  • c) shutdown engine when reached your goal apoapsis
  • d)  circularise .

Safe on reentry: once you made your preferred deorbit burn just set your VSO to orbit RAD+ with 0 rotation and wait unti il speed slow down, once you regain a correct flying asset you will bless it's almost perfect balanced flying performance: that will allow you to safe land your crew on runaway.



1 toggle ramjet

2 toggle aereospike

5 toggle cargo doors, antenna and docking



Imgur image album

Craft File


Edited by pinolallo
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  • 2 weeks later...

Trio of whiplash-based spaceplanes - and they're actually useful for things :)

Starting with the Skylance, a simple whiplash+aerospike sportsplane designed to get groups of up to six kerbals to orbit and back. Handling is excellent, and there's enough TWR to never leave any doubt about whether or not you'll be going to space today. Return to the runway is very comfortable, with lots of wing and not much weight remaining. A design review might trade the forward tank for LFO and shunt some of the LF backwards, since any excess oxidiser has nowhere to go but the aft end. It doesn't actually matter and the plane is never unstable even after performing a full loop and returning from the east end of the runway, but we feel it would be good practise to enable spare fuel to be moved forward on demand.


The Cloudspike is more complicated; two whiplashes, one aerospike, and two nervas. Firing the nuclear engines at 15km results in over 1300m/s by the time the jets fizzle and kicking in the aerospike at this point will raise the AP just enough that the nervas can circularise. It's tight, and oftentimes you'll be in orbit within the atmosphere, but it can be done, and range once in space is surprisingly high, easily being able to carry a crew up to stations in high orbit.

1800m/s is quite tight for visiting moons though, since it leaves very little fuel available to choose the final landing site - and what's the point of a spaceplane that has to ditch in the rough?

So the airframe got another design pass, this time managing to stretch to over 2km/s in low orbit. The extra margin proves adequate for controlling the return, and a trip to Ceti (GPP) and back still leaves a little at the bottom of the tanks.


I mean... sure, Cloudspike III traded the 2-kerbal cabin for that extra range, but this is still five seats that can head to Mun, Minmus, Iota or Ceti and come back to the runway, and I think that's pretty good for turbojets :) 


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Codename "The Witch"

This is a prototype rocket-plane (with sadly zero payload capacity) which uses SSME for main engines. It can make orbit with about 900m/s remaining and just over 4km/s fully fueled.

It is an exercise in SORCERY due to directly opposing the typical nature of using air-breathing mode at first and changing to closed cycle for the late phase of ascent. This spaceplane does the reverse with the use of M2X scramjets, and can save maybe 100m/s after orbital insertion. Orbital correction needs a whole new approach due to having to deal with extra drag loss when the scramjets flameout at 38km and the option is taken not to do any slow burn with the SSMEs between 38km and 70km to hold the apoapsis up.

Inline VTOL engines are also present, granting > 1 TWR on Mun and high Isp. But the dry and wet CoM are not aligned, which means trouble for the pilot.





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Someone at Deep Sky clearly pulled this idea out of nowhere else but their buttocks. Believe it or not...this can SSTO. It made a 90km orbit with 260m/s to spare. :confused:

It even landed well, granted no yaw input was made which happened in one instance to trigger a fatal flat spin.

Let's ignore the issue of a 6 legged ...or 5 legged thing being named Tarantula.

Maybe it should be named "The Shadoen" because it looks like one from above. Any Roswell Conspiracies cartoon fans?


iWUje5q.jpg Vtd50zu.jpg C2198HE.jpg

Edited by JadeOfMaar
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My attempt at the Ultimate Challenge Contract. - The J-09 Blackstar / Quasar



The front part is the Quasar Eve lander, the back part is the blackstar, a Tylo-capable Spaceplane with optional droptanks for extended range for a crew of three as well as a science compartement.

The spaceplane part was heavily inspired by Astrobond, the Eve Lander by Bradley Whistance.

Although the Whiplash Engines can be decoupled, the whole craft is SSTO capable.

Take-Off Weight is under 130t, cost is at 281,812 Kerbal payment units (Do they have a name?)

As some clipping is involved, I will not enter it into official challenges (Some fuel tanks are clipped into each other for optical purposes, an Aerospike is behind the middle rapier engine and offset into the engine). Maybe I'll build one without clipping in the future, maybe not.


Quasar Eve lander

The Quasar is intended to land on the highest mountain of Eve. There, science may be collected and a flag planted. I expect many quickloads, until I'll finish the landing on the mountaintop.

Once in the air, wings and gear will be dropped. First stage with Vector, second stage with Aerospike, final stage is a reusable space chair with spark.

The space chair will rendezvous and dock with the blackstar. For mission purposes, the space chair's drone core is the entity to land on every planet and moon.

The Quasar is built with some nasty offsets to minimize drag and ensure fuel transfers are posible through the heatshield. Also, thanks to severe spaghettification upon disembarking the command chair, a seperate cockpit has been installed in the front. Those fairings turned out to be Kraken-bait.


Blackstar SSTO

The Blackstar is a Tylo capable spaceplane. With its drop tanks, a trip from Eve to Moho and back should be possible. (We'll see about that. Moho is hard, as many already discovered.)

Although the Whiplash Engines and the outermost tanks can be jettisoned, it is technically a SSTO spaceplane from my point of view.

With its big mining drill and the small convert-o-tron powered by two fuel cell arrays, it should have enough range and endurance for every other moon and planet.


So, Kerbal Space Programm has a fresh installation on my PC, only essential mods like KER and Mechjeb are installed, Ulitmate Challenge contract is accepted.

Whish me luck. :)

Edited by Mephisto81
Fixed link for picture.
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Just now, Maffif said:

Does this count? 

 <blockquote class="imgur-embed-pub" lang="en" data-id="a/O24Ol"><a href="//imgur.com/O24Ol"></a></blockquote><script async src="//s.imgur.com/min/embed.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

Insert just the direct link (which ends in .jpg or .png) and the image will appear. Album link embedding is forever broken. (Believe me)

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I have been trying to make the most cost, MET, fuel and overall efficient SSTO spaceplane to haul cargo to and from orbit using only early to mid tech nodes. Album: https://imgur.com/a/BMTKW

The vessel has stats that are on par with your typical cargo SSTO that uses rapiers, but this one only uses Panther J404 engines and early rocket motors.

Meet the Airskipper Super Libra SL72 [Fully stock] in her MAX cargo setup.




She only requires these tech nodes :) 



I Can swap the inline cockpit for a service bay with probe core to bring allowed cargo up to and over 21 Tons for a 29% payload fraction to orbit with one extra tech node.

I'm perfecting this vehicle furthermore and I am considering putting it on KerbalX for people to play with. But I will postpone for some time as I intend to create several pre-installed cargo versions and a probe core setup before uploading her for ya'll to play with. I'm just interested what people think of this one.

The allowed cargo in weight and volume allows installation of typical 2nd stage terrier powered modules which can be single staged from there on for a crew of 3 to reach Duna and back that includes all science experiments brought with you also. It can easily launch up to 7 satellites into orbit to fulfill 7 satellite contracts at each time with enough fuel to reach Duna. But draggy cargo must be put in a fairing at the back. I will create a pre-installed version with a fairing node at the back before she's put on KerbalX so she can accommodate all types of cargo's required without you scratching your head on how to install it on your own.

I intentionally scaled this vessel to the weight limit and cargo capacity since it allows to bring all types of cargo typical contracts require during the career phase it is in. But that does assume you can build your cargo stages a.k.a. vessels effectively like I can. Most people on here can I figure.

This vessel has been optimized over several dozen iterations and latter iterations have been tested for 50-100 hours to achieve full proof handling across all phases of flight. 

NOTE: This vessel requires runway, SPH and R&D level 2 facility upgrades.

These facility upgrades allow vessels up to 140 Ton to be launched. I'm aiming for a future heavier version that is likely a scaled substitute of this design that weighs ~140 Tons that includes cargo possibly up to 42 Tons if done right. Maybe a lot more if I create a working design using the Wolfhound. But I'm aiming for a version that doesn't require the Making history expansion so it is probably without the wolfhound.

For reference: A 140 Ton version scale of this vehicle will allow...


...one Jumbo 64 fuel tank with large service bay, command probe, antennas, docking mechanism, rcs sytem and aplenty of monoproppellant fuel including a engine and nosecone. 
And again, only using the tech nodes as shown on the picture above.

It takes quite some time to build a vessel with these stats so I take my time for this and a heavier version won't come anytime soon. I initially did this to test how efficient I could make a cargo SSTO for my own and while building this vessel was tedious it has been enormous fun and learned a lot about spaceplane refinements in the process.
Eventually her use is limited to the mid career phase so further gratitude can only be acquired from sharing this craft with other living people. I will make a few alterations still and make a few pre configured setups of this vehicle and will then upload her to KerbalX.
I'm just curious if people are interested in her which is why I showcase her before actual uploading as its use is likely limited towards the mid career phase, assuming you can make more efficient spaceplanes with later techs that is.

Here is a imgur album link that showcases her potential https://imgur.com/a/BMTKW

Vessel facts!



  • Can lift up to 20.6 Tons of her original 72 Tons into LKO for a payload fraction of 28.5% using 3 Panthers, 2 swivels and one Thud engine and up to 29% payload fraction if cockpit is swapped for a probe core. It does this repetitively according to a pre configured checklist I wrote.
  • Can operate under 4x physical timewarp under all phases of flight for a real life MET as low as 9 minutes and just over 40 minutes game MET from launch until recovery. The checklist is strict but eventually the pilot checklist becomes repetitive and error free so you can deliver 6 freights (120 Tons) in less then one hour in real life time including vessel recovery at the KSC. No more "my SSTO takes to long to do a full mission and rockets are faster" arguments.
  • Can install high volemetric cargos if payload is put in a fairing at the back even if it is supper draggy like a larger rover for instance.
  • Can support a single 2.5 meter fuel stack on its back without stability concerns if faired or coned.
  • Can do precise and aggressive maneuvers in all layers of the atmosphere at max timewarp.
  • Very hard to stall due to rear centered lift and drag in relation to CoM.
  • Very efficient gliding capability due to wing design in the upper atmosphere when coming in to short at to low speed due to wing incidence and reduced drag profile (curved airfoil and longer and lesser 1.25m stacks in the design setup) 
  • Proper light systems on the gear faced fwt and aft to land in the dark.
  • A small step for a kerbalnaut to climb onto from the ground to embark and disembark the vehicle (although not sure why one would want to) = a small step for Kerbalkind, oops!, wrong paraphrase :P 
  • Spoilers on the back when holding "B" to brake before landing when coming in to fast or for faster aerobraking in low-mid atmosphere.
  • All wheels can steer and the CoM is very low and can do wild 360 turns over the surface due to lower gear friction without tipping even slightly. Can litterally do circuit races on the surface if you desire to do so.
  • Very hard to crash when unloaded.
  • Can hold up to 90 degrees AoA in the atmosphere but is purposely reduced to 45 degrees in the lower layers of the atmosphere so people don't accidentally stall her.
  • Very difficult to stall and even when you do she will auto correct by plummeting nose first due to com, lift and drag alignment in both wet and dry mass configuration.
  • Can takeoff and land at dry mass but also at wet mass with and without cargo installed. So if there's fire on board after liftoff she can save herself :jokes: Although she's increasingly less maneuverable when fully loaded.
  • Alternatively she can fly upside down and eject the payload on any of the buildings to act as a heavy bomber. Because things like these are obviously necessary :P 
  • Only has to use 1-2 M/s Dv in orbit to get back to the KSC reliably due to very effective high altitude full body aerobraking and skimming effects achieved by the inclined curvature of the airfoil if at least half a orbit away from the KSC assuming your close to 70/70 LKO. (Reference: Only takes one quarter orbit to get into LKO)
  • Can withstand heating effect at 2300+ m/s as low as 40km for half a orbit.
  • In terms of amount in science required she only needs all 45 science, 5 x 90 science and 2 x 160 science nodes. This means she can be acquired very early in the tech tree.
  • Can skim the atmosphere for a full orbit after initial de-orbit burn at orbital velocity even when sinking into 40km altitude range at which point she can effectively aerobrake to landing speed (which is sub 600 m/s or so) in 30 mile travel over the surface at said altitude.
  • Has relatively fuel efficient jet engine propulsion after aerobraking in dry mode if cruising at 15.000 meters in case you still missed the runway [you wont] in case you have leftover LF. Can also easily acquire and maintain 15000 meters since she is full body controllable in all layers of the atmosphere.
  • Does not break up when arresting speed from 2300 m/s in a full body aerobrake regardless of how hard you pull or in which layer of the atmosphere you do it in.
  • Can aim and hold all roll, pitch angles under 4x physical timewarp at all speeds without stability issues regardless of which layer of the atmosphere you're in assuming you use a autopilot.
  • Wing incidence, angled thrust vectoring and reduction of control surface drag due to a very refined airfoil and naturally stable pitching moment during all fuel levels allows near or at prograde maneuvering during most phases of flight to and from orbit. 
  • Has enough Battery power to make 2 orbits while under continues SAS strain.
  • Highly maneuverable in dry mass configuration when landing and has very stiff control outputs to make her very easy to control.
  • Can easily land in water without losing any of it's parts, a scenario by the way which is not likely to occur.
  • Cannot only bring but also retrieve cargo from Orbit if a docking mechanism allows the weight to be joint at the CoM of this spaceplane in orbit. A special configured setup will be crafted with RCS fuel and RCS ports.
  • A full body 1.25m stacked and Mk 1 based spaceplane that is very hard to overheat and only does so if you purposely aim into dense air without any intention of aerobraking.



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Howdy SSTOers.  I haven't seen too many reports like this yet, so might as well put one here.  My favorite SSTO platform in pre-MH looks like this:


And weighs 184t to put 54t of cargo in orbit (29% payload fraction).

I updated it with Making History parts, namely the Wolfhound with its 412s of ISP. Also the low-drag, low part-count tapered side tanks.


For the same capability (~350m/s of orbital dV, full RCS system, CLS compatible crew transfer, etc) and despite an extra 5t of OMS engines, this similar platform only weighs 149t with the same 54t cargo (36% payload fraction).  The Wolfhounds have enough thrust that there's no need to ever use the RAPIERs in rocket mode at all.  Obviously this big a jump in stock ISP will shatter some of the old payload-fraction record designs (though this overpowered 8x-RAPIER craft is certainly no record breaker).

Other notes from the design process, as it seems to me that aero has been tweaked slightly:

  • Commspikes (a pointed antenna on the nose) or Magic Antennas appear to no longer magically disrupt the aero model; they just add drag and make the craft a tiny bit slower
  • The shielded docking port is still a very draggy nosecone.  The plain nosecone is much better.  The advanced nosecone is slightly better than that.  The pointy fairing pictured here is very very close to the advanced nosecone, and a better cosmetic fit. I didn't try the shock cone.
  • The Soyuz side tanks are quite low drag for their capacity.  They do seem to produce a bit of body lift  (inward, on my plane above) when flying exactly prograde - which is what you'd expect from their profile, but KSP's aero model hasn't always done what you expect
  • Clipped tail cones on RAPIERs just add mass and increase total drag now (which I believe was the same in 1.3.1?)


Edited by fourfa
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21 hours ago, fourfa said:

Obviously this big a jump in stock ISP will shatter some of the old payload-fraction record designs (though this overpowered 8x-RAPIER craft is certainly no record breaker).

I wouldn't consider DLC parts "stock" per say. There is still a good deal of players who don't use it. Most heritage challenges are splitting it into a separate category or treating it as a mod, especially concerning the new OP engines.

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51 minutes ago, Andetch said:

The Cave SSTO by Andetch


A genuine caveman tech spaceplane!

There is a single mono-prop thruster on the nose, so don't worry if all you fuel is used getting into orbit... You wont be stranded!

Can you handle the challenge?





That's quite good for a Caveman tech SSTO. One thing though, neither mono-propellant nor mono-propellant engines are standard Caveman tech. Where did they come from?

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On 3/22/2018 at 1:12 PM, fourfa said:

Clipped tail cones on RAPIERs just add mass and increase total drag now (which I believe was the same in 1.3.1?)

Who is this dummy?  Obviously if you test side-by-side RAPIERs, one with a reversed clipped shock cone and the other without, the total drag with the cone is indeed much less.  Duh.

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6 hours ago, The Dunatian said:

That's quite good for a Caveman tech SSTO. One thing though, neither mono-propellant nor mono-propellant engines are standard Caveman tech. Where did they come from?

The monoprop is included in the cockpit.. The thruster is tech level with the research lab lvl1, no upgrade, it's a place anywhere RCS thruster, not a rcs engine that is controlled by throttle and staged. Thought caveman was no facilities upgrade?

Edited by Andetch
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