SSTO Payload Lifter
by Nerdy314159265
uploaded 2015-11-05
(updated 2015-11-05)
stock spaceplane
#SSTO #payload #cargo #spaceplane #stock

I am always looking for constructive comments! So please let me know what you think


A stock aircraft called SSTO Payload Lifter. Built with 75 of the finest parts, its root part is the Cockpit. Built in the SPH in KSP version 1.0.4.


This guy is capable of lifting large, for my current tech level, payloads into an 80km circular orbit and then landing back at base. It costs around 6000 Spesos per launch.

I have successfully orbited an almost 12 ton payload with around 3.6 km/s of dV with this craft.


Low Atmosphere

The launch is a bit strange but relatively easy. I take off and get up to around 300 m/s below 10km ascending at around 20 degrees. I should mention that the engines should basically always be at 100% at this point. As it gets higher pitching up becomes more difficult and it naturally descends to around 10 degrees at full pitch.

I continue like gaining speed quickly until around 18 km. At that point, I begin pitching down to re-enter the thicker atmosphere to build up speed ( more on this later ). After around 21km the craft should descend and should basically pitch down as much as possible for awhile. At 14km I begin pulling up as hard as possible. If the craft begins to heat up a bit much then shutting off the engines for a moment (just long enough so that they idle down) will allow the craft to bleed a little speed (or at least acceleration) and won’t overheat.

Continue pitching up as much as possible with the throttle cranked. The engines should begin dying around 20km and should be switched from when they become weaker than the engines ( I believe the apoapsis will begin lowering at this point but am unsure ). This should get about an apoapsis of 30km. The reason for this weird maneuver is because it allows you to gain speed and pitch up where the atmosphere is a bit thicker; Doing it this way increases how far the craft pitches up as you go and gives a bit more vertical speed which is necessary to get out of the atmosphere so the rockets are more efficient.

High Atmosphere and Orbit

At this point you should have the rockets running full blast and pitching up as much as possible. The default setup for the ship has all the rocket fuel tanks disabled entirely save one, which has oxidizer enabled. The first step should be to enable fuel flow from the tank farthest forward, moving back each time a tank runs low. Doing this moves the CoM backwards and helps increase pitching even more.

Once you get to around 50km the craft should be pointed almost vertical and SAS should be able to hold it in this position comfortably. Continue the burn until you bring your apoapsis up to a comfortable point for your orbital burn. The rest is rather straight forward, circularize without going too high up, and drop the cargo. De-orbit when read careful not to drop the periapsis too low and move any remaining fuel to the front of the ship ( might not be necessary depending on your fuel management )


The return is the easiest part of this mission. Simply keep the craft prograde and hold down the brakes. I found that the airbrakes slow the craft and keep it very stable in atmosphere. It shouldn’t even get near hot enough to worry about. When you hit the thicker part of the atmosphere and are moving at a reasonable speed you can lay off the brakes and switch back to the jets for the return flight.


Sorry for the weird action groups this was made within a career mode and is currently my goto lifter. I recommend changing the action groups to something else if you have them unlocked or are playing sandbox.

The weird fuel tanks setup is to protect against the possibility of the jet engines stealing any fuel from the rocket stage or draining it from a tank that would unbalance the ship. You may be able to get away with unlocking them because they were done that way before I knew how to transfer fuel and might not be necessary; More testing is needed on that front.

A video of a takeoff is in the works and will be up at some point soon.


2015/11/5 - Fixed a small staging error that is still visible in the page image. (Decoupler comes after the engines)


  • Type: SPH
  • Class: spaceplane
  • Part Count: 75
  • Pure Stock
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