by sturmhauke
uploaded 2017-11-19
stock spaceplane


  • Type: SPH
  • Class: spaceplane
  • Part Count: 197
  • Pure Stock

Stupid Spaceboat To Orbit

Kerberos was an attempt at an all environment vehicle - land, air, sea, and space. In the end it manages to complete a mission to Laythe but isn’t all that great at anything. But maybe someone can improve on the design.


The Kerbal Engineer Redux mod is recommended for its data readouts. MechJeb apparently has good data also, but I haven’t used it.

Takeoff from KSC runway

Kerberos cannot take off vertically in Kerbin gravity - the STOL Dart engines give a TRW of around 0.79 with full tanks. You can take off vertically from lower gravity bodies, or you can use the engines to assist with water takeoffs (described later).

Be careful with the flight controls during ascent - maneuvering too hard will cause a huge loss in speed, and may break things.

  • Turn on SAS
  • Throttle to zero
  • Spacebar to stage
  • 3 and 4 to turn off Nerv and Dart engines
  • Full throttle
  • Takeoff speed is about 60 m/s
  • Pitch up to 10 degrees until you accelerate to about 150 m/s, then level off
  • Keep altitude under 1500 m until you accelerate to about 430 m/s (Mach 1.25)
  • Pitch up to 15 degrees
  • At around 13 km altitude / 900 m/s (Mach 3ish), pitch up to 20 degrees. The ship will tend to roll, so try to stay centered.
  • Rapier thrust will start dropping after 22 km altitude as the air thins. Keep an eye on your speed - when it starts dropping too fast, press 2 to switch to closed cycle.
  • At 40 km altitude, switch SAS to hold prograde
  • Keep an eye on your apoapsis altitude and time to apoapsis. This is where the mods are really useful - if you don’t have them, you can switch to map view. Minimum altitude for Low Kerbin Orbit is above 70 km. I generally aim for around 75 km.
    • First, keep burning until you get to the target Ap, or a bit higher.
    • If you’re more than a couple minutes away, cut your engines. You’ll lose a bit of speed/Ap altitude to drag, but that’s negligible.
    • When you are about 45 seconds away, throttle up slowly. The trick here is to push the Ap so it stays ahead of you, while raising the periapsis up to the same altitude. If you are getting too close to Ap, throttle up. If it is getting farther away, throttle down.
    • When Pe is raised to the altitude you want, cut your engines
    • You may run out of oxidizer before you get to orbit. That’s fine if you want to go past the Kerbin system - oxidizer is heavy, and the Nervs run on liquid fuel only for long range operations. Press 1 to turn off the Rapiers and 3 to turn on the Nervs.

Water Takeoff

At least on my computer, water physics causes a lot of lag, so I try to avoid it.

  • Accelerate to max speed in the water (about 42 m/s). Pitching up slightly will help get the float tanks higher up in the water for less drag.
  • Press 4 to turn on the STOL engines
  • Pitch up to around 15 degrees
  • Once you get up to around 50 m altitude and 70 m/s, you can turn off the STOLs and fly normally.

Water Landing

Water landing is difficult, and you will most likely break off a nosecone at the very least. You can use the STOL engines if you have any oxidizer, but you probably don’t if you’re returning from orbit. Here’s how you do it:

  • Quicksave!
  • Fly at 100 m/s and 100 m altitude over the water
  • Press 5 to engage the airbrakes
  • Pitch up to around 15 degrees. The goal is to drop very slowly down while maintaining forward airspeed.
  • Try to hit the water under 40 m/s, with less than 1 m/s vertical drop
  • Check for damage
  • Reload, probably


The mining rig is underpowered, especially in the outer solar system.

  • Press 6 to open the cargo bay doors, 7 for the solar panel, 9 for the thermal panel
  • There’s an ore scanner in the upper cargo bay. It’s most useful after completing an orbital survey (you’re on your own for that).
  • Retract the front landing gear so that Kerberos kneels forward
  • The Convert-O-Tron 125 is entirely in the lower cargo bay. The Drill-O-Matic is hidden inside the converter and an ore tank behind the cockpit. There are two hinges of the drill sticking out from the ore tank; you can access its menu by right-clicking there.
  • Mining and converting takes forever - a couple of weeks on Minmus, longer further out due to less sunlight. You can use the fuel cells to help with power generation, but be careful not to burn all the fuel you just converted.

Interplanetary Travel

  • Use your Nervs
  • Burn times will be long, so it’s sometimes useful to plan for multiple short maneuvers instead of one long one
  • Keep your solar panel oriented towards the sun when possible

A stock aircraft called Kerberos. Built with 197 of the finest parts, its root part is mk2Cockpit.Inline.

Built in the SPH in KSP version 1.3.1.

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