Career mode has been overhauled with contracts, reputation, and funding as of update 0.24 (First Contract), see the Career mode page for more information. There are however community-developed campaigns below if you want to be challenged with the current sandbox.
The KSP community offers the following logical campaign mission progression manifest to players looking to follow a near historical and future age list of mission goals and milestones that can be done in the current sandbox. These campaign ideas are listed here to help you plan your own space program. Feel free to add your own ideas to the list, or add additional missions to existing campaigns.
- From solid rocket launches, to commercial spaceflight, to nuclear exploration beyond the Kerbol system, this campaign is for you! This campaign is a large series of missions designed to present a logical sequence of space development, at a pace matching historical spaceflight, modern missions, and future planned spaceflight. These campaigns are designed to be played in the order presented, up until the Kerbollo 13 campaign. After completing the Kerbollo 13 campaign, you are welcome to run neighboring campaigns simultaneously, and of course, add your own missions and goals that fit the theme of the campaigns you are running. Note that each successive campaign assumes you've acquired the necessary skills to complete the previous missions. This community developed series assumes you are in the Sandbox game mode.
NOTE: These campaigns have some continuity issues, along with large difficulty fluctuations. Changes to improve these would be greatly appreciated.
- Spaceflight is expensive, and technology progressive. Challenge yourself to build the simplest and cheapest launch systems and spacecraft to accomplish the mission.
- SAS modules don't exist until the middle of the Kerbinai Program, so don't use them until then (yes hotshot, you will need to fly using your onboard command module SAS only). Advanced SAS modules don't exist until the Kerbollo Program during the Mun Race.
- If an advanced part exists, don't use it if an alternative exists and you can still accomplish your mission.
- You are welcome to end any flight except where Kerbals are involved (unless it was called a test flight prior to launch), at which point you will get to launch rescue missions later.
To MechJeb or not to MechJeb, that is the question. A middle route is to challenge yourself to learning to fly simpler ships manually, learn launch profiles and orbital mechanics manually, and then using MechJeb later to perform the tedious launch routines of other missions, seeking to have it do what you've already mastered.
The difficulties for the campaigns are represented on a one to ten scale as follows:
- 1/10 (Beginner)- Can be done as soon as you buy the game.
- 2/10 (Novice)- Can be done once you are comfortable with the controls.
- 3/10 (Amateur)- Can be done with some basic knowledge of game mechanics.
- 4/10 (Trained)- Can be done with a complete understanding of game mechanics.
- 5/10 (Adept)- Requires some specialized skills (ex. landing on other bodies).
- 6/10 (Proficient)- Requires hard-to-learn specialized skills (ex. docking).
- 7/10 (Advanced)- Requires experience with specialized skills.
- 8/10 (Expert)- Difficult for most experienced players.
- 9/10 (Elite)- Challenging for experienced players.
- 10/10 (Scott Manley)- Self explanatory.
- Test your staging by launching test flights (run through everything prior to reaching orbit).
- Use action groups to manage more complex launch systems and spacecraft.
- Don't forget the parachute.
- A campaign series of increasing difficulty and with a natural progression. Each campaign is submitted and edited by users, and some are unfinished or not yet tested, so feel free to contribute.
- Age of Rocketry - Solid fuel rockets, Liquid fuel rockets and ballistic missiles
- Space Race - First satellite, first man in space, first manned orbit
- Age of Satellites - Orbital mechanics 101: ComSat, KerbSat, GeoSat, SpySat
- Beyond Kerbin - First fly-by and impact probes to Mun, Minmus, Duna and Eve
- The Kerbinai Program - First spacewalk, rendezvous and docking, some pre-Kerbollo probes
- The Mun Race - First manned Mun orbit and return, first landing and return
- Kerbollo 13 - Rescue missions!!
- Final Business - Final Mun and Minimus landings for a while
- Kerbol System Exploration - Probes to Duna, and Eve, and a Grand Tour program to visit Dres, Jool, and Eeloo
- Kerbals in Space - Build Kylab and KIR, prepare them for deorbit when KSS is later built
- The Shuttle Program - Build the first reusable space ship to land on a runway
- Kerbal Space Station - Build the KSS to house 10 Kerbals [WIP]
- Joolileo - Send a large probe to explore Jool and its moons, with a smaller probe for descent
- Space Telescopes - Kubble Space Telescope, Mun remote observatory, and L4 Planet Finder
- Budget Cuts - Temporarily terminate all Extra-Kerbin missions, set up an improved Deep Space Network
- Private Spaceflight - Build KerbX planes, KerbX's reusable Falcon 9, and Green Origin's New Sheperd.
- Sample Return Missions - Land and return robotic landers from a local passing asteroid, Eve, Vall, and Eeloo [WIP]
- Duna or Bust - Duna satellites, first manned Duna landing
- Danger in the Neighborhood - Deflect a rogue asteroid that is threatening Kerbin [WIP]
- Age of Expansion - Satellite relay network, Mun station, Mun base
- Exploration of Jool - Rovers and Satellites around the Jool System
- The Spacers - Manned planetary explorations, Eeloo telescope [WIP]
- The Daring Few - The first extrasolar ship to return home
Feel free to celebrate your accomplishment with player-developed ribbon awards when you reach certain milestones.
- The Colony - Build space colonies of 100 Kerbals
- Where No Kerbal Has Gone Before - Build a space ark of 150 Kerbals leaving for the stars
-  - The best of player challenges submitted on the KSP forums
- Mod-Based Additions - Additional campaigns to this series requiring mods to be installed
- Exploring The System a comprehensive, 35-vehicle and 52-mission, design campaign by Pecan
- Project JOOL - Create a series of probes to go to Jool.