I needed new kerbonauts if I wanted to continue the program, so I put out some ads. Pilot funny looking rockets! Enjoy the emptiness of space! Get as far away from other Kerbals as can be possible! Join our space program today!
My legal adviser advised me again that as we hadn't been to space, then we couldn't call ourselves a space program, and could be held liable for false advertised. I ignored him again. Surprisingly, we didn't have long until we got our new first new applicants. After applying our rigorous tests to determine the best applicant (first come first serve) we had our new pilot, Lisya"Health" Kerman.
Hopefully her nickname is a promise of things to come, and not her being ironic. I quickly shuffle her off to basic pilot training and move on to designing a proper rocket for going to space. This time I'd go through some actual planning and design, along with making sure to run it through simulations first. I didn't like Jebediah, but his death will spur me to do things right. I get a basic design down and run simulation
until I'm sure that I've got something workable. Short of gross pilot error, this rocket would not be destroyed because of my design.
With the design done, and Ms. Health finishing her basic training, I giver her a quick briefing before she steps into the new rocket.
"The flight is simple, keep the rocket facing straight up. Press this first button to start things, then this next button when it lights up, followed by this third when it lights up. Supposedly, you'll go higher if we stagger the rockets, rather than lighting up them up all at once. Don't press any other buttons. We'll give further instructions when you've left the atmosphere"
There were no comments or questions, and so we set up the launch.
We got the rocket on the launchpad, all lights were green for launch. I gave the go-ahead for the countdown. Ms. Health begins counting down steadily:
Press all the buttons!
My assistant came over with an outstretched hand, asking me to pay up on our bet. I grudgingly gave him the money. But we had planned for this. Even if she launched all the rockets at once, she wouldn't blow up, nor fail to make the required height. Everything was going well, even if I was down 100 spesos. I held my breath as she passed the danger zone, where her large speed would compress the air. Compress it too much, and the buildup of heat would blow up the rocket, as had happened so often in the simulations.
But she made it through, even if some warning lights were a tad angry with us. The craft continued coasting, getting ever closer towards that magical 70k marker, where it would leave our atmosphere and truly enter space.
We reach it, and our pilot gives us a few observations. Success! We're officially a space agency now. The craft continues climbing towards that 150k marker that we need for the extra cash.
We reach it, with some distance to spare. Even better, we get a picture of a future destination. Well done. But now it's time to bring our pilot back, and the planet looks much different when you're falling into it from 150k kilometers up.
I give her the remainder of her instructions. "Flip the switch on your left to jettison the empty tanks. You won't need them any longer. Then flip your craft nose first towards the ground. My researchers tell me that their funky shape is deliberate. If it works as designed, it'll end up bottom down no matter your orientation, and they won't to test it out. They tell me the risk is minimal. On the right is another switch for the parachutes, flip it when the light turns green. Please wait this time before hitting it"
Everything looks good, and it's time to see if everything works out. Will she burn up on reentry? Will she pop her parachute at the appropriate time? Will it slow her enough? All these worries fly through my head.
She's well into the atmosphere by now, and unsurprisingly (or surprisingly, depending on how much you trust the researchers) the craft has turned bottom down. Neat. Now to see if it would explode from the heat, or if something will go wrong with the parachute or...
But no. Everything goes perfectly well, and Ms. Health lands perfectly. Even exiting the craft for a quick picture. Success! First manned mission to space!