"When Pigs Fly" Fuel Carrier SSTO
by blakemw
uploaded 2018-01-05
(updated 2018-01-05)
stock ship


I’m not going to lie to you, this thing is a flying pig. It only does one thing, and that is deliver fuel to orbit, it does however do it quite well. (the screenshot is a 90km orbit)

And it doesn’t fly like a pig because it’s poorly designed, but because it’s close to the limits of what will fly, so it can bring a large payload into orbit.

Ascent Guidance:

  • Apply full power to all the engines
  • Don’t attempt to lift off - it’s too heavy
  • Fly off the end of the runway - you might want to pull up as if your life depends on it
  • Don’t crash into the ocean - near misses are fine
  • While flying level above the waves build up speed to about 500m/s: it actually has plenty of power and is pretty streamlined so building up speed isn’t a problem.
  • I suggest turning on fine controls (capslock) now. Turn it off later.
  • Pull up to about 20 degrees and ascend, maintain at least 15 degrees until at least 20000m.
  • Observe the fuel and acceleration: liquid fuel is drawn from the Mk1 Fuel Fuselages first, and then the wings, and then the Mk3 fuselage. Once the fuel in the wings starts to deplete, or once acceleration starts dropping off to nearly nothing, press 8 to toggle the R.A.P.I.E.R.S to rocket mode.
  • Now on rocket power, ascend at 15-20 degrees, you can level out at 45000m, raise Apoapsis to whatever you desire.
  • Circularize.

Docking Guidance:

  • I dock mainly using a technique called Pull Prograde / Push Retrograde, as such the plane is equipped with RCS thrusters aligned with the docking port.
  • A brief description of this technique, is you get close to the target (close as possible), zero out relative velocity, aim the docking ports at each other, and fly forward so docking happens.

Descent Guidance:

  • I suggest raising Control Authority on all the control surfaces.
  • I’m assuming that, like me and extremely skilled at missing the KSC so the plane comes with lots of surplus liquid fuel and you’ll have a zillion miles of cross range capability.
  • Stability is significantly improved under powered flight rather than gliding.
  • Come in low and land gently.

Suggested Changes:

She’s perfect as she is and you’d just be putting lipstick on a pig. But:

  • Feel free to place the docking port on the nose, though this won’t be as streamlined as fairing all the way.
  • If you don’t like how I like to dock, then add some more RCS thrusters.
  • You can safely remove about 800 units of liquid fuel and still have enough to get by.
  • Add control groups to toggle the engine types.
  • Add larger landing gear. The plane requires a gentle touch to land without breaking bits off, because the landing gear are undersized to save weight.


  • Type: SPH
  • Class: ship
  • Part Count: 49
  • Pure Stock
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