Campaign: Shuttle Program

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After creating space stations which require frequent crew changes, Kerbal scientists realized that using expensive multi-stage rockets was too inefficient. After many studies, they developed a new concept for reaching space - a space plane. An aircraft attached to a main rocket booster, a spaceplane would be reusable and highly effective at moving fragile cargo down to the surface, such as Kerbals.


  • Length: 20 hours (much less if good at building spaceplanes)
  • Difficulty: 7/10 (Very Advanced)
  • Skills needed:
  1. Spaceplane design (Tutorial: Spaceplane basics)
  2. Intermediate plane piloting
  3. Intermediate navigation via maneuver node
  4. Advanced orbiting
  5. Intermediate understanding of launch windows
  6. Intermediate understanding of intercepts/rendezvous
  7. Intermediate docking
  8. Ability to complete Kerbinai Program
  9. Ability to complete Kerbol System Exploration
  • For version: Every version post-0.15

This campaign can be done in vanilla KSP, but is much simpler using addons.

Space Shuttle Testing

  • Design a spaceplane and perform a test atmospheric flight
    • Alternatively, download the TiberDyne Shuttle System from the forum. It simulates the American shuttle and the Russian Buran. It is also capable of carrying payloads in its payload bay. There is also the Kerbin Shuttle Orbiter System, which also has space shuttles, but more in-line with the game's art style. Instead, you can download one of many addons providing cargo bays and use stock parts for the rest of your vehicle.
  1. The spaceplane should be capable of landing by itself, and traveling to orbit with the aid of a rocket booster. It should also have a docking port and sufficient RCS to perform an orbital docking, as well as space for a payload.
  2. Launch the space plane to the upper atmosphere, above 30 km but below 70 km.
  3. Glide or fly to a safe horizontal landing
  • Launch a space plane into a suborbital trajectory.
  1. Launch a space plane attached to a rocket booster to an apoapsis of over 70 km.
  2. Glide or fly to a safe horizontal landing.

Orbital Testing

  1. Periapsis and apoapsis must both be above 100 km.
  2. Make a safe landing on the ground.
  • (optional) Make an emergency landing
  1. Launch into orbit, and just before circularisation shut down all engines.
  2. Without using any engine power, continue on your long suborbital trajectory and land.

Payload Testing

  • Launch a shuttle capable of carrying payload into a stable orbit while also following the orbital testing guidelines
  1. Launch into orbit a fully functioning satellite having solar panels, communications, and lights.
  2. Launch a shuttle into orbit and grab the satellite for analysis then return the satellite into orbit and return the shuttle home.
  3. Launch a final test using the shuttle to put a satellite capable of changing its orbit independently into a stable orbit between 100 km and 130 km.

Near-Kir Rendezvous

  • Launch a shuttle on intercept to the Kir space station for rendezvous and dress rehearsal for later docking missions
  1. Launch into a Kir chase orbit and rendezvous within 5 km.
(Optional) Attempt to rendezvous in one orbit and within <1km
  1. Maneuver the shuttle orbiter to within 11 meters of Kir.
  2. Translate away and perform a fly-around while in close proximity to the station.
  3. Perform final station keeping maneuvers bringing the orbiter as close to Kir as you feel comfortable.
  4. Translate away from the station for reentry and glide or fly to a safe horizontal landing.
(Optional) Land at an airstrip other than the KSC coast

Shuttle-Kir Docking Module

  • Design and launch a docking module for delivery with the shuttle system to Kir space station
  1. Design a docking module which will ensure safe and adequate distance between the orbiter and space station solar panels while docked.
  2. The docking module must launch in the shuttle payload bay and then be moved to the shuttle main docking system while on orbit.
  3. Rendezvous and dock the shuttle and docking module with Kir, transferring any crew and resources.
  4. After the space station stay is completed, undock the shuttle from Kir leaving behind the docking module.
  5. Safely reenter and glide or fly to a horizontal landing.

Shuttle Payload Return

  • Launch a shuttle to retrieve and return satellites for analysis already on orbit from previous payload testing
  1. Launch a shuttle and perform orbital maneuvers to intercept both satellites deployed during the previous payload testing missions.
  2. Capture/berth the satellites to the shuttle payload bay upon rendezvous (You remembered to put docking ports on both satellites, right?).
  3. Reenter and glide or fly to a safe horizontal landing with both satellites in tow for analysis by your scientists and engineers.
(Optional) Launch with a satellite that can position itself into geostationary orbit; must be deployed before retrieving the other satellites


The board wants proof of the advantages of this new payload delivery system. Your scientists have plans for an orbiter probe to map the surface of and perform science around Eve. Extensive discussions resulted in the probe being named 'Kergellan' in honor of Ferdinand Kergellan, the famed explorer who circumnavigated Kerbin's waters just a few years ago (drowning, incidentally, before he could finish his maps). All you need now is an Interplanetary Upper Stage (IUS) booster system to launch a spacecraft out of your spacecraft.

  • Design an upper stage booster system and probe to map and perform science around Eve (Feel free to use a mapping satellite addon so you actually ARE mapping!)
  1. Launch a shuttle to an orbit between 300 and 310 km to deliver IUS/Kergellan payload.
  2. Must also fly small science payload which can perform experiments around Kerbin to be returned at the end of mission.
  3. Kergellan must contain two photovoltaic panels, a dish, propulsion system, and science instruments (and mapping parts of course).
  4. Kergellan must orbit Eve within 2 degrees of 90 degrees polar inclination at an altitude between 185 and 750 km (Note: consider orbital resonance).
  5. Return the shuttle and crew to a landing strip (after you are done with your Kerbin orbit experiments).

Final Word

Progress since the first launch from KSC is incredible. Simple single stage solid rocket boosters have given way to complex rocket systems delivering space planes with payload of their own, tying together everything learned so far. Now that the shuttle program has started in earnest a new age of space is beginning. The shuttle will play a critical role in construction of the planned IKSS (International Kerman Space Station), but delivery of a GPS and communications data relay satellite constellation must happen to support this planet's rapidly advancing technological society. It can surely be said that impossibilities are only possibilities waiting to be explored. With these new capabilities, larger projects are awaiting.