Apr 01 2015

BASPM Gemini-DA Minimum Launch Schedule

This is part of a series of posts about the game Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager, which I am playing on iOS. In previous installments, I worked out a sequence which would give the minimum number of launches to land on the moon with no equipment penalties for the Apollo, and the Gemini-EOR lunar programs. This post covers the Gemini Direct Ascent program.

The minimum 10 launches appear to be:

1. Gemini Uncrewed Suborbital Flight Test (Suborb 3851)
2. Gemini Suborbital Flight* (Suborb-HR 3851)
3. Gemini Orbital Flight (LEO-HR 3851)
4. Gemini Spacewalk (Duration Level I) (LEO-HR 3866)**
4. Gemini-DA-Earth Orbit Tests Uncrewed Gemini-DA configuration test (LEO 45851)
4.5. Gemini-DA-Lunar Uncrewed Lunar Flyby (TLI 45851)
5. Gemini-DA-Lunar Uncrewed Lunar Orbital (TLI 45851)
5. Gemini-DA-Lunar Circumlunar Flight (TLI-HR 45851)
6. Gemini-DA-Lunar Lunar Orbital Flight (TLI-HR 45821)
7. Gemin-DA-Lunar Lunar Landing (Direct Ascent) (TLI-HR 46033)

Both the crewed and uncrewed lunar flights will require the Saturn 5 (see the rockets post).

If the number is the same, the flights can be flown in either order (ie, neither flight numbered 5 is dependent on the other). I numbered the uncrewed Lunar Flyby as 4.5 because it must fly after the uncrewed configuration test, but is not dependent on the Spacewalk.

*- Flight 2 here is uncessesary if you already got man in space with Mercury (or PKA or Vostok in a GSA campaign)

**- There is no orbit duration I flight in project Gemini which does not involve an EVA. The object of this flight is Extended Duration I, not EVA, as there never is an equipment penalty attached to the EVA suit on this line of missions. The spacewalk could be deleted if you do the Mercury Extended Duration I flight.

The spreadsheet with the dependencies can be found here.

Mar 31 2015

BASPM Research and Rockets

I’m sure there’s a wiki for Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager somewhere, but I’ve been having fun putting together information to help me play.


I started a NASA game, built the VAB, and then advanced two turns so I could record the rocket information in a spreadsheet. As it turned out, I couldn’t record program opening cost for programs my VAB can’t support, so each time I hit “Program Cannot Be Opened” I upgraded the VAB further. Then I repeated the process with the Soviet program. My spreadsheet is here . If playing a GSA campaing, sort by VAB level to see what’s available to you, otherwise sort by program and then VAB.

I’ve been curious for a while what the best way to approach development is. To investigate this, I started a game on “Buzz-Hard”, built the VAB, and then advanced 2 turns so it would be complete. Then I opened the Jupiter-C, Juno II, and Thor-Able programs. I assigned the best 4 rocket scientists from my starting 5 to each rocket, took a screen shot, then removed them and put them on the next rocket.

As you can see, with the same 4 scientists, and all rockets opened on the same turn, the projected improvements are:
Jupiter-C: 24.6%
Juno-II: 20.2%
Thor-Able: 12.1%

There must be some type of research point system going on under the hood…

In the two NASA campaigns I’ve done, I try to launch explorer using Juno-II, which can also launch Pioneer-4 (a lunar flyby). It may make more sense to use Jupiter-C for explorer and then research Thor-Able, which can also launch Pioneer 2 (lunar orbiter).

Sattelites and Probes:

After the rockets, I did the same for the Sattelite and probe programs. I then estimated what the smallest/earliest rocket which could pursue each sattelite would be. That spreadsheet is here (same spreadsheet as the rockets, different tab). I need to actually be able to open the program to see the opening (the costs shown on the menu are always incorrect, sometimes by a factor of 10 or more), so program opening costs are not included. The interesting thing for me, is that many of the long distance probes need Atlas-Centaur, which I’ve almost always skipped.

Research with Crewed Vehicles

I really don’t know how the programs link together… so I started a new “Buzz-Hard” campaign as NASA. I then immediately saved my game, so that the starting scientists would stay constant.

I opened X-15 opened at the start. X-15 has 3% starting reliability, and with these 4 scientists projects a 31% improvement. Then I reloaded, but opened Mercury instead. Mercury has 3% starting reliability and projects a 15.7% improvement with the same 4 scientists.Then I reloaded again, opened the X-15, and let it build up to 80% reliability.


At which point I closed X-15 and opened Mercury…

Mercury now starts at 11.6% reliability, and projects a 14.5% improvement. This suggests to me that there is some flow through between programs, but it may not be very large….

Mar 31 2015

BASPM Gemini-EOR Minimum Launch Schedule

This is part of a series of posts with planning information for the game Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager, which I’m playing on iOS.

I’m currently playing a NASA campaign, on the “Buzz-Hard” difficulty level. I had originally intended to follow my Apollo minimum launches roadmap, but I’ve been beaten to several goals by the Soviets. I’m switching my planning over to the Gemini-EOR program for my lunar landing, but have never really analyzed it.

The spreadsheet is located here.

Like the Apollo roadmap, I started by looking at the Gemini-EOR Lunar Landing mission and recording the penalties. Then I worked backward to find missions which would remove the equipment penalties. That should leave me with the minimum number of launches I’d need to make to use Gemini-EOR to reach the moon. Of course, in actual play it may be advantageous to accept small penalties in order to skip certain launches.

This path assumes using the projects:
Gemini (basic project)
Gemini EOR test flights in Earth Orbit
Gemini EOR (lunar program)

Flights with the same number could be done in any order.

1.Gemini uncrewed suborbital flight test (Gemini) (Suborb 3851)
2.Gemini uncrewed orbital flight test (Gemini) (LEO 3851)
3.Gemini orbital flight (Gemini) (LEO-HR 3866)
4.Spacewalk (Duration I) (Gemini) (LEO-HR 3866)
5.Circumlunar flight (Gemini EOR Lunar) (LEO 10637, LEO-HR 13946)
5.Gemini Lander test in LEO (Gemini EOR test flights in earth orbit) (LEO-HR 18393)
6.Lunar orbital flight (Gemini EOR Lunar) (LEO 10637, LEO-HR 13946)
7.Langley Light Lunar Lander test in Lunar Orbit (Gemini EOR Lunar) (LEO 10637, LEO-HR 18393)
8.Lunar Landing EOR and LOR (Gemini EOR Lunar) (LEO 10637, LEO-HR 18393)

That’s a total of 9 flights, vs 10 for Apollo. You do still need to get Man in space, which could be done either from the suborbital Gemini mission (adding 1 flight), or the manned suborbital Mercury mission (adding 2). It really surprises me that there appear to be no dependencies for docking, rendesvous, etc. They may be hidden of course… One nice aspect of this set of missions is that everything up to 4 can be done with Titan-II, (Suborb could be done with Atlas or anything that follows Atlas). The later launches could be done with Titan IIIC and the human rated version of the Saturn 1B, no need to use Saturn 5 or C3-B.

With this line of launches, the circumlunar Gemini is unattractive, because it has a 20% equipment penalty on the Gemini transtage for not doing an uncrewed lunar flyby, adding a flight. Lunar orbital Gemini has a 5% penalty on the lunar propulsion module if you don’t do a uncrewed lunar flyby before doing a manned lunar flyby, and a 7% penalty if you use Lunar orbital Gemini for your manned lunar orbit without doing an uncrewed lunar orbital test, potentially adding 2 flights.

I’m starting to wonder whether anyone mapped out the dependencies between missions while the game was developed.

Mar 31 2015

BASPM Apollo Lunar Landing Minimum Launch Schedule

This is part of a series of posts about Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager, a game I’ve been playing on my iPad.

I decided to determine a minimum launch schedule, right from the start in 1955 which would lead to landing Project Apollo on the moon. It will of course be necessary to launch more rockets in order to get enough prestige to have the budget to do the later missions. Having a path mapped out from the beginning should reduce the flailing about I sometimes do when deciding which mission to run.

I started by looking at the Apollo Lunar Landing mission (in 1955) and recording what the equipment penalties are. One thing to note, the CSM has -70% in equipment penalties, but the penalties shown only add up to 65%, so there’s a hidden 5% I’m not seeing there. (Probably for uncrewed lunar orbital flight?). I recorded everything in a spreadsheet, available here.

There are some strange dependencies… for example, the Project Apollo Orbital Flight [Type C] has serious penalties for not having already achieved Man in Space and Project Apollo Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test. However, The Lunar Module Test in Low Earth Orbit with EVA [Type D] mission only has penalties for the lunar lander, but takes no penalties for not having Man in Space, Spacewalk, Orbital Flight, Uncrewed orbital flight, etc. Thus, that mission makes sense as the entry point for the Apollo program, eliminating two uncrewed flights and a manned flight.
Actually … that has to be a data entry oversight, either on the mission or just on the planning screen display. I’m treating the mission as if it were dependent on Project Apollo Orbital Flight..

Minimum Apollo launches (for no equipment penalty) then appears to be 10. Missions with the same number have no shared equipment dependencies, and could be launched in any order. Rocket Requirement in Parentheses

1. Apollo Uncrewed Suborbital Flight Test (Suborb 30329)
1. Apollo Uncrewed lunar lander test in Earth Orbit (LEO 14696)
2. Apollo Uncrewed lunar flyby test (TLI 30329)
2. Apollo Uncrewed orbital flight test (LEO 18500)
3. Apollo Orbital Flight [Type C] (LEO-HR 18500)
4. Apollo Lunar Module Test in Low Earth Orbit with EVA (LEO-HR 33287)
5. Apollo Circumlunar Flight (TLI-HR 30329)
6. Apollo Lunar Orbital Flight (TLI-HR 30329)
7. Apollo Lunar Module Test in Lunar Orbit (TLI-HR 45025)
8. Apollo Lunar Landing (LOR) [Type G and H] (TLI-HR 45207)

That leaves an unfilled requirement for Man in Space, which puts a fairly hefty penalty on the Apollo CSM during the Apollo Orbital Flight. Man in space can be filled by either Gemini or Mercury:


1. Uncrewed suborbital flight test (Suborb 1355)
2. Suborbital flight (Suborb-HR 1355)


1. Uncrewed suborbital flight test (Suborb 3851)
2. Suborbital flight (Suborb-HR 3851)

Mercury of course, would be cheaper to open and to fly. However, what’s really interesting is that at no point is there a penalty for not having done a spacewalk, docking, rendezvous, high-speed heat shield test, or any of the many other goals which are available. In fact, you could reach the moon having never put a robotic satellite into orbit! However, flying the minimum missions would not get the player much prestige, which would mean you would have to deal with very small budgets and would not be able to open the Apollo program until fairly late. That leaves plenty of flexibility to launch additional missions based on how a specific play through is going.

Mar 31 2015

BASPM Soviet playthrough on ‘Hard’ difficulty level

This is an AAR of a playthrough of Buzz Aldrin’s Space Program Manager. I played iOS version 1.4.16 (March 16, 2015). This page consists of notes I took while I was playing, followed by a few concluding thoughts. This was a Soviet campaign playthrough, on “Hard” difficulty level.

I don’t claim to be an expert at the game, so if I did anything egregiously wrong strategywise, feel free to let me know. Because this is a very long post, with many images I’ll place it behind the “read more tag”. Click the read more or the post title to view. Click on images to view them larger.

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