Simple guide for Ahead of the Curve achievement: placing Artificial Satellite before October, 1957.
Starting Agency, Traits, Difficulty
USA or Japan. Only they have time to build of 1 month for both buster and upper stage.Everyone else will spend too much time to build first rocket. I guess it is possible to be lucky and get -x% build time after you complete loadout but you will lose your sanity trying to get it.
There are 2 essential traits:
- Pathfinders: -25% research cost for mission research tree
- Leap first: Invalid launch window become suboptimal launch window
Without first you will spend too much time researching satellite mission and without second you would not be able to launch in September. And I did not find a way to launch in August so it is pretty much your only option.
Anything else - up to you. Taking Unknown entity for -1 trait point and Launch proficiency I is a strong choice, can save you a bit of time starting from scratch if you get screwed by random at the launch.
Very Easy. Did not check for just Easy but it is impossible to get all research on Normal before the deadline.
Do not start test launch mission. You don't really need to complete it and it will mess with your timings. Real life lesson right here: you can cut on time if you skip testing (no, not really).
Instead of starting test launch you should go and start researching Artificial satellite directly. Then its payload. After payload research will be completed you must start to build it. Research booster and upper stage while your engineers assemble the payload, you should complete second one exactly at the same time when payload will be completed. If you did everything right it will happens in June.
Start to build rocket itself, with Japan and USA it will also take 2 month and it will be completed in August. At the same time you will need to research and then build small landing pad, 1 month for research and another one for building.
So, if you are lucky enough and did not get any +x% building time traits on payload then you will be able to schedule launch at September, last date before the deadline. Do it and pray to RNG god to not blow your rocket at launch. You don't really care about perfect launch, small penalty for mission itself on very easy should not give you any trouble since you have more than enough turns to complete it no matter what.
Well, you basically already won this game, really. On very easy with giant boost to your support from early satellite launch you can do whatever, there is no competition (well maybe for test launch if you manage to fail it or forget about it). For achievements it is a decent idea to go for other time based achievements: Test Pilot for launching a human into orbit before April, 1961 and One Giant Leap for completing the Crewed Moon Landing mission before July, 1969. No real strategy needed on that difficulty setting though, just try to not forget about them doing other stuff.