Now that I have the basics for orbit, I am going to try and get a satellite up there! The Explorer A craft appears to do the job (if the various engines hold). I may add a bit of Nitrogen for safety, but I got a great sim altitude of well over the 36000km I needed. It also creams the high sounding contract as well. I am going for it! Explorer A (11696 dV) Feb 15, 1952 14:12, a beautiful clear day! Going for first orbital satellite, medium and high sounding and getting a bunch of science! I forgot to add the Nitrogen. I hope it is not a problem. RD-103 shut down a few seconds early, almost could not hot start the next stage! A failure of one of the separation engine spinners created a wonky spin which , along with the lower apogee (due to the RD-103 failure) created a tense situation but we ended up with an apogee of 31,800 km (not enough for high space science) and a perigee of just over 150km! The minmum needed for the satellite contract! So, success!!! Mostly, but good enough! Getting science. <Explorer A> Explorer B (11476 dV) April 7, 1952, a few clouds but clear Different probe, aiming for a high space orbit (36mm) and more engine testing. Should be paid for by the medium and high sounding contracts. No other contracts really in play. RD-103 shut down early again! Basically, I am pushing it beyond its 1:52 life and it is not making it. I need better engines (longer) but maybe it can upgrade? Only got to 22mm apogee so I did not get near high space. I am not sure how to hit Moon with my current engines, I may have to wait. <Explorer B> Explorer C log was lost. July 18-19(?), 1952 It used an upgraded RD-103M engine and all the engines performed nominally. It included a lighter Vanguard 1 payload. (12952 dV) Got high space over Earth and Sun telemetry. <Explorer C> There are 42 days left to study Orbital Rocketry. I also have quite a while (206 days) until I have a tracking station that would really allow me to do a lunar mission. It would be a bit of trial ans error otherwise since I can't set maneuver nodes and such. I think I will warp to the new rocketry level because I can do sounding missions to may for some tests because the truly interesting missions are the lunar challenges that come at that point. Jumping to an Explorer E which takes advantage of some new hardware to send the Explorer payload off into high orbit and possible solar orbit. This one mission may take me to the next avionics level where I can start creating lunar craft as the tracking will also be getting closer. Some simple sounding contracts should cover the cost of this testing. So, it looks like I may be out of luck/time. I really can't launch the craft until we upgrade the pad which is 220 days away. Fact is, the lesser craft don't have any real value to me at this point so I think I just have to jump forward! It will be early 1953 before I can effectively continue the program. Ah well, that seems to be the bottom line. I should have started my pad upgrade earlier.