Enough reveling, next step to space was to visit Research and Development to see if they had any new parts. I didn't want to continue using model rockets if I could help it.
Here's the tech tree. We use our Science! to research new sets of parts. Of course, nothing is actually free - all new parts that have been researched will require an additional fee to prototype. The new parts we've made available will do nicely. Now, instead of the model rocket we were using before, our researchers have a new rocket that works the same, but has the fuel of two model rockets. Progress, I suppose.
Next, I rifle through the available contracts, looking for more work to fund the program. Two contracts immediately present themselves:
It's time to actually reach space, rather than staying in the atmosphere. Which, as my legal adviser is so eager to point out, will allow us to legally call ourselves a space program. We still call ourselves a space program, but don't tell anyone. We're hoping the feds don't notice before we get a rocket up there. While we're at it, I accept the challenge to haul our new and improved booster rocket up to at least 150k km.
A simple mission. Launch, collect some data, and return safely. Just the same as the mission before. All is going well, until disaster strikes. The hastily made design returns to the ground nose first. Unlike our first flight, the craft doesn't lose enough speed coming down and is moving too fast for the parachutes to safely release. Jebediah makes tries anyway, and the parachute disintegrates.
Morale is low. Our backup pilot Valentina is suited up for a similar mission. This time, we're back to the tried and true model rocket. It won't go high enough for another crash.
The mission is a success, with Valentina splashing down safely. Once she returns, I go to congratulate her, only to find myself met with a declaration: My pro kerbonauts were on strike while I was in charge. Turns out, they didn't think it an accident that Jebediah died earlier. If I wanted to take this agency into space, I'd have to recruit new, untrained kerbonauts.
PS. As an aside, I make sure to record everything I do. If you're interested in seeing what happens in video form, I should be able to upload that part to youtube. Most of what happens is boring, so I don't upload any of it by default. I hope you enjoyed this section.
Also, also, please if you could like the posts. It's surprising how much they can help spread it around.