Ships cost money now a days, but I'm unwilling to make any changes to construction style (TWR >5 all the way!). I've had some trouble making fat stacks of ker-cash. What is the easiest way to make money?

No answer regarding saving money, please.

Also, I would prefer answers that involve vanilla installs - no mods.

  • You can also still play it where you only have to worry about science, not cash.
    – SaintWacko
    Sep 12, 2014 at 2:17
  • I want to play with the financial aspect, just not having to slow down or adjust my ship building...
    – Coomie
    Sep 12, 2014 at 2:19
  • 1
    @Coomie but there is not financial aspect besides ship building. The only gameplay aspect of money is that it limits how much hardware you can launch.
    – Philipp
    Sep 15, 2014 at 14:25
  • 1
    @Philipp I want to feel like a space mogul, making millions of Kerdollars and still launching behemoths.
    – Coomie
    Sep 16, 2014 at 1:56

7 Answers 7


Put some satellites in orbit on nearby bodies with a science device and antenna and accept the "send science from orbit around X" missions. You can just switch to the satellite and do the science and transmit.


Your desires are not compatible.

The entire point of using the contract system in the first place is to add additional challenge to your game, and to structure your space program.

Since you appear to have a very clear idea of what you want to do, and don't appreciate the additional constraints and challenges that come with the contract system, the best thing to do is to not use it.

If you absolutely want to use the contract system, the trick to earning oodles of money is to launch missions that cost far less than they bring in, and using the time between mission events to launch additional missions.

For instance, in the time it takes you to do a Minmus round trip, you can fire off a dozen missions to the Mün, and in so doing make available further Minmus contracts, meaning that the initial cheap mission is made even more profitable by later developments.

Side note: A TWR greater than 5 is almost always a massive waste of money: Unless you absolutely, positively need to get into space immediately you're going to burn most of your fuel fighting needlessly against the atmosphere, and even more in way too steep an ascent.


You'll have to change how you generate cash as you progress though the game and the available Contracts change. Usually by about the time you are shooting for the moons of Jool and have unlocked 75% of the science tree, you should have more than enough money to build any kind of monster spaceship you want.

Farming part test contracts are you best path to early game cash. Contracts requiring only Landed on Kerbin are pretty much free money. Accept a few and and stick the parts on a MK1 Command Pod, run the tests on the launch pad, and then recover. Sub-orbitals are the next best thing. The key is to strap as many parts with similar test conditions to a simple craft as possible. Usually just a single BACC SRB launching the parts attached to a command pod is enough.

These missions are simple and take less than 10 minutes to construct and fly. You don't even need to fuel a rocket part to test it successfully. Use these contract missions to fund the more interesting ones.

Once you start sending manned missions to other planets, you'll need to switch to using probes to generate your money. The easy part based contracts will generally dry up at this point. A small probe can do the trick of satisfying the full conditions of a exploration contract( reach orbit, transmit science from orbit, and transmit science from surface). And it will do it quicker and cheaper than a manned mission. You usually only need to get a LV-N with a Fl-T800 fuel tank into orbit to have enough delta-V for a probe to reach any body in the system(provided optimal orbits). You'll essentially be using probes to fund and acquire the science/parts to make the followup manned mission possible.

Other than that, keeping Kerbels on other planets and in orbit around Kerbin is also very useful for quick cash. Having someone available to plant a quick flag, or rescue a stranded Kerbal from orbit is a great return on investment. Both of those tasks tend to have high cash rewards.


Some of my thoughts on contracts for 1.12

Edit: Monopropellant refining

Warning: this trick is game breaking, don't ruin your fun in career!

You can exploit the fact that ore is cheaper than monopropellant. Using a Convert-O-Tron 250, converting ore into monopropellant yields profit. No need for drilling, just fill the ore tanks in the SPH. Roll out a refinery rig onto the runway, let it convert, and recover. Have an engineer on board to speed up the conversion.

Money Farm I (for low level engineer): https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2957871112

Money Farm II 'Pro' (for 5* engineer) https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2957973350


Why fly around the Mun all by yourself if you can take some paying customers along for the ride? Just slap on some Inline Mk1 Crew Cabin.

I also build all my landers with 2-3 Mk1 Pods for this reason (and to keep them more flat and squat for easier landing).

Low tech Mun lander that seats 3: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2933040208

Mid tech lander for two: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2954892369

Contract advances

These can be massive if you just start out. Want me to build a rover that can support 11 Kerbals and land it on Eve? I don't have the tech to do this right now because I am just starting out. But I will gladly take your advance of 579,150 now and revisit this problem later in the 35 years I have to complete the contract!

Experimental parts

Want me to test a Mainsail engine landed on the Mun? I can't get it there right now, but thanks for the experimental heavy lift engine I can now use on all my flights even though I did not unlock the science for it.


You don't need fancy Rapier engines to return parts of your launchers from Orbit. Actually a pure SSTO solution can be much more expensive than a cheap two stage launcher with some parachutes stuck on. Keep it light and simple, use an expendable cheap solid booster as first stage to get high enough to fully benefit from an efficient vacuum engine.

Cheap launcher to get to low Kerbin orbit for launch costs of 5,435 and recover 4000: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2934324370

Cheap unmanned Mun rover for 8,740: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2954906948

Cheap satellite/relay for 5,818: https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2933174672

In Situ Resource Utilization

Launching missions from Kerbin is expensive because of the high delta-v requirements. If you can keep the equipment for the orbital parts of a mission on location, it can be reused by follow-up missions, so they can be cheaper. This is done by using a separate craft to return to Kerbin.

In my current early campaign where I mainly explore the Mun I use the following setup:

  • Base of operations is a station in low Mun Orbit (55 km). Contains labs and serves as fuel and cargo depot. All traffic to the Mun surface goes through here.
  • Fuel is supplied to the station by heavy miners (~ 50t) which refine fuel on the surface of the Mun. Make sure to have an engineer on each of these. These can seat up to 8 and take along tourists to the surface.
  • Contracts (e.g. rover repairs) and science exploration are done by small agile landers ( ~ 10t) that seat two. These are docked at the station and used as needed.
  • Cargo (e.g. rover wheels, new tech) and personnel/tourists are brought from and to Kerbin with small SSTOs (~ 20t).
  • Science is returned from Mun to the station and stored in the tourist SSTOs for return to Kerbin. None of the other craft return to Kerbin.
  • Equipment is refitted in Mun orbit through EVA construction if newer parts become available (e.g. install new science experiments in the small landers).
  • Communications is established with 2x 3 small relays brought in with Cargo SSTO.
  • Transfer from Mun to Minmus is available every 7,5 days for ~300 m/s. I transfer personnel and cargo there via small shuttle.

Now that this infrastructure is in place I can crunch Mun contracts indefinitely with basically no launch costs (only Kerbals and cargo go up and down via SSTO).


I thought hard how to extend this 'stay where you already are' approach to contracts to the later career and designed some solutions. All require advanced tech.

'Maia': a huge fully integrated stack that provides all the functions mentioned above in a single launch (of considerable mass of 149 tons to orbit). High delta-v, mass, cost. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2955311353

'Sandworm': independent exploration rover, all functions for half the mass of 'Maia'. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2963570208

'Giraffa': a medium sized rover that provides all the functions (except the orbital lab/fuel depot/relays) in a single compact package (18.2 tons). Medium delta-v, mass, cost. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2957028339

'Samaritan': medium refueling rover, if you were tricked into using 'Giraffa' and don't want to wait forever for refueling to complete. https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2962898533

'Mentha': complete Minmus exploration in a single launch, 56t to orbit, mid-tech https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2961100481

'Teardrop': mid range shuttle SSTO (4 crew; 28.5 tons; 3500 m/s left after LKO insertion; WARNING: EXPLOITS) https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2958826733

'Sancus': long range shuttle SSTO (8 crew; 69.2 tons; 6050 m/s left after LKO insertion; WARNING: EXPLOITS) https://steamcommunity.com/sharedfiles/filedetails/?id=2958894696


(as of 1.0.5) Try accepting contracts that align with your goals. Often they provide a cash advance to help achieve the contract objective. I recently was able to fund the development of a multi-payload Duna Transfer Vehicle with the cash advance from several Duna/Ike contracts. I used existing satellites I used for mapping Kerbin/Mun/Minmus and my mun/minmus lander/rover design, attached them to the Duna Transfer vehicle and deployed them in the Duna system. The advance amounted to several million and the contract completion netted several million more.


The 0.25 release brings a customizable difficulty slider for the various "resources" earned in career mode (money, science, and reputation). If you're having serious trouble earning cash, start a game with that particular slider bumped up, and you'll find it easier to earn money (while everything remains the same cost, I believe).


Others posted some good methods. Let me add one I used to both earn good money and obtain new kerbonauts. Design a minimal, small unmanned craft consisting of a probe core, a small orbital maneuvering engine, RCS, the Claw, some small wing pieces oriented to serve as airbrakes, and plenty of parachutes. Save it as a subcomponent. Build a simple, decent rocket based on the big parts - orange tank or two, mainsail. Attach a fairing, and a beam on a decoupler, then a bunch of decouplers in 6x or 8x radial symmetry around it, and finally your "minimal crafts" to these decouplers. Put that into orbit, and whenever there's a contract to rescue a kerbal from LKO, detach one of the crafts, drive it to the stranded kerbal's craft, grab it with the Claw, then deorbit. Good money and quick expansion of the crew.

Also, early on, "Test X on launchpad" is good money. Later, tourists to spend time at a Minmus orbital station becomes a massive cash cow, with the Mk3 passenger segment fitting 16 tourists at a time.

And of course the ore conversion exploit, but it does break the game.

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