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Contract

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Mission Control with the first contract opened

A contract is a request by an agency to perform a task. Contracts were added in version 0.24 for career mode. The first contracts are predefined[1], but afterward an infinite supply of random contracts will be generated based on a set of templates.

Accepting a contract is optional - any contract may be declined out-of-hand without penalty - but taking contracts can lead to lucrative rewards. Contracts can reward science, funds and/or reputation if successful. Failing a contract will cause loss of funds, and possible a loss of reputation if the failure involved the loss of kerbonauts. Multiple contracts can be active at the same time, and each can have its own deadline (or none at all). It's also possible for multiple contracts to be completed by the same craft.[1] Their difficulty ranges from trivial tasks to exceptionally difficult missions.[2]

As of 1.0.5 the game can generate contracts which are impossible to fulfill, specifically because they require the TT18-A Launch Stability Enhancer to be transported away from the launchpad.[3], creating problems for challenges which forbid declining contracts.

Cancelling Contracts

Cancelling a contract does not count as failure and will not incur the failure penalty. Instead, when a contract is cancelled, the advance is taken back and reputation is left unchanged.

This can be useful for contracts whose deadline will come before it is possible to complete the contract, or if a more appealing contract appears that will take much longer than the contracts already accepted, such as a contract to explore Jool, which will take several game years. It can also be used to "borrow" money for space center upgrades or expensive launches before completing other contracts.

Rather than potentially launching multiple missions to finish up active contracts first, before launching a long-term exploration vessel (which might take several real life hours or days), contracts which will expire before the vessel is due back may be cancelled free of penalty. The funds given as an advance will be lost, but this is a small price to pay compared to contract failure, and results in having the same level of funds as before the contracts were accepted.

Types of contracts

As of version 1.2, there several types of contracts.

Progression

The first contracts are provided by the Kerbin World-Firsts Record-Keeping Society and guide the players to their first successful orbit by posing smaller, iterative challenges such as breaking records of speed, altitude, and distance. Later on, other agencies, too, offer contracts that are bound to the player's progression such as the first flying-by, orbiting, and landing on celestial bodies. These contracts are the same for every player and are not procedurally generated. They can thus be seen as the story line of the career. They have in common that they do not have a deadline once they are accepted but they are not offered indefinitely and can thus expire. See also List of story line contracts.

Part testing

Part testing involves transporting a certain part to a certain situation and either activating it or running a test on it. Contracts usually specify conditions under which the part must be tested, for example, it may need to be tested when the craft has landed on a certain body, or is in the water on Kerbin, or is at a certain altitude and speed. If the player has not unlocked the required part, it will still be available in the VAB/SPH until the contract has been completed or failed. The item will marked with **EXPERIMENTAL** during this period, and will not require an Entry Cost. Once such a contract is completed, any saved vessels that had used the experimental part will be flagged as containing illegal or locked parts, and the vessel cannot be launched until the part is removed or researched (or becomes valid under a new contract.)

For most part tests, the stage with the part has to be activated when the exact conditions are met. However, in some cases the test has to be run by right-clicking on the part and choosing "Run test". On rare occasions, you can complete a contract by right-clicking the part, then clicking "Deactivate", and then clicking "Activate" again -- even if the part has already been activated through the staging sequence previously.

Part hauling

These contracts are very similar to "part testing" contracts, but these contracts don't need the testing phase after the part transported to certain situation.

Ferrying

The ferrying contracts require transporting some tourists to a given location and returning them to Kerbin. Note that some tourists in a single contract can have different touring targets, and may additionally need a pilot onboard for flight control. Although these contracts give decent financial profit, and improve reputation, there are never scientific benefits. The contract fails if the tourists die or rendered unconscious by high gee forces - and of course there are fame and financial penalties.

High-gee adventure

An another kind of tourist entertainment, for funds (Fund) and reputation (★) only. Some extremist tourist aren't interested in reaching way-points the Kerbol system can offer, only high gee forces rendering them unconscious. And yes, they still want to survive the tour too...

Rescue

A kerbonaut spawned stranded in orbit by a contract

Rescue contracts ask that an unfortunate kerbonaut be retrieved, brought down to the surface, and safely recovered. Accepting a rescue contract will spawn a new kerbonaut in a low orbit around Kerbin - or somewhere else, who will be visible in the Tracking Station and map view. Kerbals spawned by rescue contracts can't be controlled until the rescue craft is within 2.2 km of the derelict; once a craft has maneuvered close enough the [ or ] keys will switch control over to the victim. [4] After that, the victim can EVA and use their built-in RCS jetpack to travel to, and board, the rescue craft.

Once the Kerbal has been rescued, he will be added to the crew roster in the Astronaut Complex. For this reason, rescue contracts are often desirable in mid-late game, as the cost of hiring new kerbonauts at the Astronaut complex rises quickly the more Kerbals are hired, but long missions (and/or the loss of Kerbals to catastrophe) will require ever more Kerbals.. It is often the case that the launch and recovery of a rescue mission will cost fewer funds than simply hiring a new Kerbal. Additionally, rescued kerbonauts will still join the roster even if the maximum roster limit is reached. If the Kerbal is killed the contract is considered failed and the penalty will be assessed.

Data collection

Data collection contracts require that scientific data be gathered in a specific location - for example, orbiting the Mun. This may be done by either transmitting the data with an antenna or returning the craft to Kerbin and recovering it. These contracts usually reward quite a large sum of cash, but a negligible amount of additional science. Stationing a satellite equipped with a repeatable experiment like a 2HOT Thermometer and an antenna in orbit is a great way to fulfill these contracts several times making them a quick and easy source of cash.

It doesn't matter if no actual science is earned; running any experiment in the designated situation is enough to fulfill the contract.

Exploration

Exploration contracts require that a craft be sent to the SOI of a planet or moon, land on its surface, and transmit or return data from there.

Flag planting

Flag planting contracts require a kerbonaut to plant a flag on a moon or planet. Although the flavor text of these contracts mentions that the client would like to see their flag on the surface, it doesn't matter which insignia the player picks for the mission.

Satellite delivery

Satellite delivery contracts require the player to place a powered probe core with an antenna (artificial satellite) in a specific orbit around a celestial body, and meet a variety of often very specific requirements:

  • For the purposes of the contracts, "powered" means a probe that has some source of power generation, such as solar panels or radioisotope thermal generators. Batteries or the probe's own internal battery will not suffice to meet this requirement.
  • The probe must be newly rolled out to the launch pad after the contract is accepted--a satellite that is already in play cannot be reused to fulfill the contract. However, as the contract is considered fulfilled as soon as the probe stays in the requisite orbit for ten seconds, and not monitored for compliance afterward, one satellite can be used to fulfill multiple contracts as long as they were all accepted prior to the roll-out of the satellite. The player need simply position the satellite in the first orbit, wait ten seconds, then change orbits, and repeat as necessary and as delta-v allows.
  • The probe can be delivered by a crewed or uncrewed vessel but in order to meet the terms of the contract the probe must be stable for 10 seconds without the assistance of a crewed vehicle.
  • Some of these contracts also require that the probe carry a specific scientific experiment with it, though the experiment need not be run to fulfill the terms.

Satellite positioning

Satellite positioning contract requires to reposition an already existing satellite in a specific orbit. The contract also assigns the specific satellite only can fulfill the contract. (Yep, avoid the name duplication!)

Survey

Survey contracts require that a Kerbal conduct an experiment in a specific location. This report need only be taken, not returned, in order to count for the contract. Some of the locations require the kerbal to be in flight above or below a certain altitude and others that the craft be landed. The game will display a message when the craft enters the specified location, and the locations can be navigated to using the map view and navball. Several contracts combine multiple experiments in different locations into one multi-part contract.

As with data collection, it doesn't matter if the player already has completed an experiment from that specific situation already and no science needs to be earned, so long as the craft is in the correct location.

Extraction

Extraction contracts ask for a specific amount of resource (thus far exclusively ore) to be extracted from the surface of the given celestial body. The contract also often demands the transportation of the ore somewhere else.

Space station construction

These contracts require the player to construct a space station with specified components in a specific orbit. The station may require a certain crew capacity, labs, and other capabilities, and it may have to be built into an asteroid.

Planetary base construction

Planetary base construction contracts require the player to build a base on a particular celestial body. They are subject to much the same specifications as the space station, except they must be landed on the surface.

Asteroid retrieval

These contracts require that an asteroid be captured and moved to a particular location, be it a planet, moon, orbit, or even an escape trajectory from the solar system.

Object recovery

These contracts require you to collect vehicles or parts of vehicles which have been stranded in orbit and return them to Kerbin.

Contract mods

Further contract types can be added using mods. In the 0.90 update, the Fine Print[5] mod was implemented, which adds new contract types as well as more variation on the existing contracts.

Changes

1.0.5
  • Contextual contracts added.
0.90
0.24
  • Initial release

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 First Contract Playthrough” by Miguel (Maxmaps) uploaded on the official Kerbal Space Program channel released on the 11 July.
  2. Version 0.24 - Overview (Kerbal Space Program)” by HOCgaming released on July 14, 2014
  3. Stability Enhancer... On the Mun” forum thread by Daddy Cecil
  4. Kerbal Space Program - Early Access Look At Update v0.24” by Scott Manley released on July 14, 2014
  5. "Fine Print" mod