Kerbal Space Program: How To Get Into Stable Orbit

Learn how to get into a stable orbit while playing Kerbal Space Program.

In Kerbal Space Program, learning how to get into a stable orbit is one of the most important things to know. Without a space-worthy rocket, you won’t be able to maneuver around and explore, effectively leaving you stuck.

To help get you up to speed, we’ve put together a quick guide on how you can get into stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program.

Step 1: Building Your Rocket For Stable Orbit

To get into stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program, your rocket needs to be constructed in two different stages. These stages include the upper stage, and a booster stage. For Kerbal Space Program beginners, using 1.25m parts is strongly recommended.

Now, you’ll need to first pre-condition your rocket by ensuring that you have angle-snap set to “on.” To turn angle-snap on, locate the symmetry icon in the bottom left corner of your screen. There, you’ll either see a hexagon or a circle. If you see a circle, you’ll want to press “C” to turn angle-snap on.

Be sure to turn angle-snap on when building a rocket for stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program.

Once angle-snap is on, head over to the Pods tab and select the “Mk1 Command Pod.” Next, click on the Thermal tab and select the “1.25m Heat Shield” before placing the 1.25m Heat Shield underneath your Mk1 Command Pod.

Note that you don’t need all of the ablator here. If you right-click on the 1.25m Heat Shield after placement, you can drag the ablator slider down to around 60 in order to save mass. No worries, we promise you’ll still be able to get into a stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program!

You don't need to use all of your ablator when building a rocket for stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program.

With the ablator out of the way, click on the Coupling tab and place a “TR-18A Stack Decoupler” below your 1.25m Heat Shield. Note that you want to be extra sure you’ve selected the decoupler rather than the Stack Separator.

After doing this, navigate to the Utilities tab and grab yourself a “Mk16 Parachute.” You’ll want to make sure that you place the Mk16 Parachute on top of your Mk1 Command Pod.

When building your rocket, use the Mk16 Parachute.

Next, head over to the Fuel Tanks tab and select a “FL-T400 Fuel Tank.” Upon doing so, place the FL-T400 Fuel Tank below your TR-18A Stack Decoupler.

Now, head to your Engines tab and grab yourself the “LV-909 Terrier Liquid Fuel Engine.” This is placed under your FL-T400 Fuel Tank. Once that's said and done, head back to the Coupling tab and get yourself another TR-18A Stack Decoupler.

Be sure to grab the LV-909 Terrier Liquid Fuel Engine while building your rocket in Kerbal Space Program.

You'll want to put the second TR-18A Stack Decoupler below the LV-909 Terrier Liquid Fuel Engine. Again, get yourself another FL-T400 Fuel Tank and another FL-T800 Fuel Tank, then put them under your latest TR-18A Stack Decoupler. Next, grab yourself an LV-T45 Swivel Liquid Fuel Engine and put it below your two latest fuel tanks. 

Finally, head to the Aerodynamics tab and snag the Basic Fin. Be sure to turn on 4-way symmetry by pressing “X” three times. Once you’ve done this, put the Basic Fins at the very bottom of your rocket.

You can use the Basic Fins while building your rocket for stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program.

Note that you can press “R” to go back a symmetry level if needed. Now, take a quick glance at your rocket. Ideally, it should be set up in the following order:

  • First Stage Engine/Launch Clamps
  • Decoupler (beneath Upper Stage Engine)
  • Upper Stage Engine
  • Decoupler (under the Command Pod)
  • Parachute

Satisfied? Great! You can now name your cool new rocket (we named ours Event Horizon because we’re lame) before selecting the save button.

The save button is the icon that looks like a floppy disk. Now, select the green launch button in the top right corner before proceeding forward to test out your rocket to ensure you can get into a stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program.

Step 2: Launching Your Rocket Into Stable Orbit

With your fancy new rocket built and ready to go, the next step is to get your rocket into stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program. To launch your rocket, you’ll want to follow the basic procedure listed down below.

First, press “Z” to get your throttle all the way up, then press “T” to activate SAS. Next, press the spacebar to activate your first stage. Upon doing so, you should see your rocket launching.

Now you're ready to launch your rocket in to stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program!

Press the “D” key while monitoring your altimeter and navbar. When you reach 10,000m, your rocket should be at a 45 degree angle. Continue pitching over gradually.

Press “M” and then hover your mouse over the icon that reads “Ap.” If it’s over 70,000m, you’ll want to cut off your engine. Ideally, the highest point in your stable orbit should be 80,000m. 

Note that when ascending, you don’t want to let your rocket go into the orange section of the navball.

Make sure that when you're launching your rocket, you keep out of the orange section of the navball.

Press “M” again and then press spacebar to separate your rocket from the initial launch stage. Now, head to your map view and select your apoapsis. 

Next, press “Add Maneuver Node.” Drag the green icon to your right until you spot a “Pe” icon on the other side of Kerbin. Also make sure to keep your periapsis height above 70,000m.

Press "Add Maneuver Node" then drag the green icon to your right until you spot the "Pe" icon. 

Look to your left of your navball. There, you’ll see a set of icons. Click the icon on the top right that reads “Maneuver.”

You’ll ideally see a time to node and burn time to the right of your navball. Now, timewarp by pressing the “.” key until the time to node is exactly half your burn time.

Upon doing so, cut your time acceleration by pressing “,” several times. Next, press “Z” and burn (be sure to stop burning when the periapsis gets above 70,000m).

By following the steps above, you should now be in a stable orbit in Kerbal Space Program!

Morgan is a writer, indie game lover, and socially awkward coffee addict. When she's not gaming or caffeinating, you can reach her at morgan.shaver@allgamers.com or say hello using GIFs on Twitter.

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