I was trying with Soviet Sandbox mode without edit files.
In the first period only can lift-off the Sputnik, no money to anything more. Because of this only get medium prestige so the next period was under-level budget.
The cost of the programs (rockets and capsule) in the second period empty my reserve. Without money only can fly the Vostok I uncrewed capsule. After this wait three seasons to get the money to second mission.
OK, here's a short walkthrough :
Turn 1 : Infrastructures building and SET Personel management
- Build the missing infrastructures (Mission Control, Cosmonauts Center).
- Open Sputnik 1 program.
- Go in the SET building, and fire personel that are really too incompetent. Then recruit. Mostly, you want to "hunt" those profiles :
1) Specialists (rocket, probes, crewed spacecraft) that have a skill near 70% but a low "lightbulb" (low learners)
2) Fast-learners (that have a high "lightbulb" skill). Those will spend time in advanced training.
So at this point, you should have 1 or 2 decent "Probes" SET assigned to Sputnik, 2 SET sent in "Rockets" advanced training, 2 SET sent in "Crewed Spacecraft" adv. training, and the 7th can be used to reinforce one of those areas, or you can already train him to "Man-Rated rockets", which is going to be very useful later.
Turn 2 : Mission Control
- Now that the Mission Control building is ready, hire Mission Controllers, all 5 of them. Here is how you should do the repartition :
1) The one that has the highest lightbulb skill should be "Flight Director" profile. He'll have a lot of things to learn.
2) A "propulsion" specialist. Extremely important.
3) A "spacecraft system" specialist. Not so critical in the first Sputnik mission, but quickly becomes essential.
4) A "crews/payloads" specialist. Will be useful as soon as you will send Luna-3 to the Moon, and also for manned missions.
5) A "trajectory & GNC" specialist. Same reason as above.
MCs are critical. They give you a "second chance" in case of failure that will make all the difference on the long run. Always, always have them training if they are not assigned to missions.
Turn 3 : R-7 and Cosmonauts
- The Assembly Building is now ready. Open the "R-7" rocket program that will easily lift our Sputnik to orbit. At this point, SETs recruited in Turn 1 are ready. Have 2 SETs working on R-7, 2 on Sputnik at minimum.
- The Cosmonauts Center is ready. Recruiting cosmonauts is a delicate operation. Bear in mind that their advanced training is the most time-consuming (1 year), so you have to hire the elite (as in reality). Here are the selection criterias :
1) A decent "lightbulb" skill (75+). Training opportunities are limited so the guys have to get the most of it.
2) An average of skills over 50%. Forget those with less than 50% in those three critical areas : Leadership, Piloting, Fitness. You might want to prepare 2-men crews right from now, so you can have 2 cosmonauts with low Leadership, and focused on Piloting, EVA, Fitness skills. Science is a "plus", good but not critical.
Notice that you have more time to make your selection here, so that you can be difficult. Dont hire all seven now, waste of skills and you'll have to pay them. High morale in the corps draw more motivated and qualified recruits the following year, so a salary boost might really worth it. Anyway you won't need legions of them in the current state of the game.
Turn 4 : On the Road !
- MCs are returning from basic training. Sent them to advanced training, following the specialization profiles described above (Turn 2). Now we are beginning to build a professional workforce.
- SETs are returning from advanced training. You sent two of them to "crewed spacecraft", so its time to open the Vostok program and assign them to the spacecraft. Notice I'm not covering the "PKA straegy" here, which is a bit different. You can go that way too, remember that the PKA is a fully orbital spaceplane almost as capable as Vostok. Harder to R&D, though. Here, let's go Vostok. We can afford to have both programs open at the same time right now.
- MCs are returning from advanced training. Just keep on making them better and better. Do that everytime, unless you need them for a mission.
The costs/funding balance should be still over +800 at this point.
Turn 5 : complete cosmonauts recruitment.
- If you rose the salaries of the cosmonauts, the recruits selection of 1956 should be interesting. Continue to make your market.
- 1956 will be a year devoted to R&D and personel training from now. Don't open other programs. Watch the R&D of Sputnik, R-7 & Vostok rise.
Turn 7 : Cosmonauts adv. training, first batch
- Your first cosmonauts are returning from basic training. Send them to adv. Training in the following skills : Leadership, Piloting, Fitness. Here are our candidates for the first man in space.
Turn 9 : Cosmonauts adv. training, second batch
- The second batch of cosmonauts (recruited during turn 5) are now ready. Specialize them in : Piloting, EVA/Science, Fitness. They will be specialists/flight engineers for the 2-crewed missions. Planning, planning !
Turn 10 : Historical launch preparations
- Don't send the MCs in advanced training, if you want to launch next turn. Well, not the 3 ones you need : Flight Director, Propulsion, Systems.
Turn 11 : Ready for launch !
- We are in Fall 1957. Its precisely when the Soviets launched Sputnik-1. At this point, you should have the R-7 near 80%, and the Sputnik above 85%. Mission Controllers have now a decent level. Time to take our chances !
Turn 12 : Moving forward.
- Assuming you had a reasonable luck and that Sputnik 1 succeeded (+1400 prestige), think right now to the future of your unmanned program. Here I'll chose Sputnik 2 as a logical continuation. So open that program. You'll benefit from technology transfer from Sputnik 1 (well, seems it doesn't work. We'll fix that !!). Take the SET assigned to Sputnik 1 is the satellite has not maxed out its R&D % during the mission, and assign them to Sputnik 2.
- Schedule "Sputnik : extended mission". That one will earn us more points for cheap, and now the hardware is really reliable, with competent MCs.
- You can take the gambit of upgrading the SET building and the HQ right now, in order to open more programs (lunar probes) and get things rolling. That will shift your quarterly balance in the red. Beware though, if you fail missions in 1958 and end with a loosy budget, there is no withdrawal plan.
Turn 13 : Lunar dreams
- Time to think to those lunar probes. The "Lunik" rocket will be our weapon of choice here. R-7 should be maxed out, so have the SET that worked on it shift to Lunik (open that rocket program). You'll get a great technology transfer from the R-7 (33% or so), and it will prepare an even better one for the "Vostok" (50%+). So, paradoxally, you win R&D time by doing this.
Turn 15 : On the good path
- After "Sputnik : extended" completion (+500 prestige), you should be above 2000. That's close from the 2500 target. We still have money (more than 15,000) and 2 seasons, so let's use them. Let's go for another Sputnik 1 (simple) mission, there are 125 more points to get (and it trains the MCs) !
Turn 16 : Push forward
- There's currently (but it will be removed very soon) a bug with Sputnik 2, so we can't launch it. No problem, let's get 75 points again with the now very reliable Sputnik 1 !
Turn 17 : Budget Review 1 outcome
Without having positive R&D, prestige or money events, I had the following results :
Prestige : 2,412/2,500 -> Budget : 7,344/7,500, not bad at all.
Components in R&D : Vostok (75%) / Sputnik 2 (74%) / Lunik (rocket) (62%)
Next goals :
1) Send Luna-3 on a lunar flyby.
2) Get a man in orbit before 1962 with Vostok.
That's defintively doable