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I know, there are tons of people and questions about the new career mode, mostly the tight money system. Most of these posts are answered with "Farm the 'test x while landed on Kerbin' missions, ???, profit" or similar grindy/exploity strategies (my favorite to think about is exploiting the fact that your money can't go negative, essentially defrauding each and every investor that the program gets), but what about for the players that want to be able to achieve progression, while having fun in the process? The more lucrative missions tend to send you off into orbit, or even to the Mun and Minmus (while you still only have the 3 basic 1.25m engines and the half-size liquid fuel tank), or at least high into the atmosphere, where flight is only sustainable with either a high altitude spaceplane, usually requiring the turbojet engine, which is available through no less than 300 science points, or through a traditional Kerbal rocket, which is required to jettison pretty much everything in order to ensure a safe landing, resulting in a huge loss in money on craft recovery (keep in mind, we're assuming that the player has hit a relative wall in science, due to difficulty rustling up the cash for the facility upgrades), usually giving a net loss unless you can manage to hammer out 4 or 5 missions in a single flight (once again, facility upgrading problems).

The question is this: How do I progress in the game without grinding super easy missions or exploiting game quirks (however realistic they may or may not be)? In other words, how do I run an honest space program, while still having fun?

  • possible duplicate of Easy money in Kerbal Space Program – Coomie May 25 '15 at 2:15
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    I can see why that could be seen, but this question includes how to save money in career mode, which the mentioned question specifically excludes. Also, the accepted answer on that question is specifically excluded from the scope of this question, it exploits the fact that you can decline endlessly without end. I do decline some missions, but only what's impossible for me to do without losing money (such as missions that take me to high-altitude atmospheric flight, I would require a multistage rocket to achieve those missions which would make me lose money overall). – Mitchell Carroll May 25 '15 at 6:11
  • Can we get this unmarked as duplicate? If you read the entirety of both questions, it's clear that neither is a duplicate, as each has specific exclusions for points that are integral to the other. – Mitchell Carroll May 29 '15 at 16:41
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Do missions and milestones. The first few missions are really easy. The same for the milestones, you get most of your cash early game by completing them. Some of the strategies in in the Administration building could be helpful too.

The second thing you should do is make sure that every flight rewards you some science.

And as third you should attach parachutes to every decoupling stage. Sometimes multiple parachutes per stage are required. This way you're sure your decoupled parts are landing unharmed and gets you lots of your paid money back.

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I find the best way is to double up wherever you can. I tend to take a group of the same contracts (this involves turning a lot of them down until you get near-duplicates).

Right now I have about 4 'place new satellites' lined up. I will launch 1 satellite to to accomplish all 4.

I also try to take contracts that I can address quickly (transmit science data from Mun Surface when I already have a probe there).

Generally any mission that requires me to visit a specific location I don't accept.

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There are two answers I've found in my game so far: 1. acquire a penchant for low altitude plane flight and normal aviation and 2.(not yet tested, working on it soon) attach chutes to everything you jettison, and deploy it as you jettison them, so that your beloved rubble makes it to the ground safely.

As for 1, what I ended up doing was making a stupid move and upgrading my VAB and launch pad using all my early-earned easy cash, leaving me with the stock SPH and runway. Because of this, I thought my only option was to go into space and science the heck out of it like I did when the science update first came out, but this, as stated in the question above, turned out to cost an enormous amount of money and quickly had me reconsidering my progression path. In the end, I had built myself a mini science plane, capable of extremely long-distance flights and multiple safe takeoffs and landings. With the help of this, I designed it to make it easy to maneuver, while staying relatively stable and fuel efficient. Using this, I rejected any contract that took me higher than about 11k, which is more or less the ceiling of my craft's effectiveness, then took a level 1 pilot and level 1 engineer with me on "Visual survey of Kerbin" or "Gather science data from Kerbin" missions that fit the height requirements, and marathoned all of them in a single flight, repacking the chutes after every landing. Also take the easy missions when they come up, and build a purpose craft for it (AKA a pod with just that part attached to it, unless you need to take it up to a certain altitude, in which case I used rockets based entirely on solid fuel boosters which are pretty cheap) and complete the mission. Don't forget to do all the science you can wherever your missions take you, and recover rather than transmit it for full results (if you have to make a separate trip each time for the science JR and the Goo tank, why not do the same for all the other science modules?).

For 2, I'm still working on building my money and don't have enough liquid cash to risk on something like this, but I will edit this as soon as I'm done. Testing done, doesn't really work well as the pieces get unloaded and disappear when you get too far from them unless they've already hit the ground.

These are not by far the only answers there are (I think at least) so if you have a working strategy post an answer of your own!

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A nice way to get some good money fast is to do tourist missions. Yes, you do lose money with decoupling all parts, but if you build a cheep orbiter with the Mk.1 crew cabin, it works nicely.

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