Reliable Rockets Tutorial
Reliable Launch Systems
Making a reliable launch system to be used countless times, over and over and over again, like I do, is kind of a tough subject for beginners. When you're playing for the first time, each of your rockets changes throughout missions, but getting the perfect rocket combo requires some good skill.
The purpose for having this "ideal" launch vehicle is to know whenever you need to launch any kind of specialized mission type, you have a perfect launch system ready to go. But, it's not so cut and dry when you're just starting.
The building part isn't exactly a piece of cake. Constructing a 2.5m launch vehicle for a new person to the game to hold 13 tons of cargo isn't "easy", per say. The method to make good rockets is...test it. As I build my launch vehicles, I use test launches, about every 10-15 minutes. Each time, I get valuable data about the craft. Say I had 2 solid rocket boosters. If when I decouple them, they are hitting my craft, I know to put separatrons. Whenever you see an issue, think about everything you can do about it, while still keeping the craft simple. One problem I have is having too little or too much fuel left over. It doesn't really matter that much, unless you're playing something like career mode. But, it really isn't the end of the world. So, once you have your simple, working launch vehicle, it's time to test different payloads (if you haven't used one for the past testing).
If you've been using the same payload for each test launch so far, this next step is very easy. Open up the craft, open the "Engineer's Report" tab, and disconnect all lower stages, so the craft is reduced to just the payload, and look at the part info. in the report. Observe the weight. Say the weight is 12 tons, and there's no issues with the launch vehicle carrying a 12 ton payload. Now you know that your payload should be a maximum of 12 tons, unless your tests had fuel left over. If that happened, you can get off with a 12.9 ton payload, approximately. And now, the system is ready.
This step is the fun part. Use the rocket for anything under 12 tons, pretty simple. I know thousands of crafts I could build with that. Space station modules, small moon landers, rovers, and many more. And when you encounter an issue with a payload being too heavy, just start testing again. Try adding a fuel tank here, an engine there, or a booster somewhat over there. TESTING TESTING TESTING!
When the day has come that the rocket no longer meets your interplanetary needs, or something like that, put it to rest. In your archives. You never know when you might need it again.