First off, I have not tested this yet, it is just an idea I rolled around in my head for a while now.
It does not seem very thematic to me that you could survey with a probe that started when survey was not even researched - same goes for rendezvous or landing (AFAIK not for re-entry, since all the capsules that can do it also need it (?)).
For this game mode you are required to having had the according technology researched in the year the spacecraft launched or earlier. To keep track of this, you can take little pieces of paper with S for survey, R for rendezvous (or D for docking if this is more apparent to you) and L for landing on it. They are considered components of the spacecraft with 0 mass and 0 cost, that may not achieve any missions on their own (so no sounding rocket with a suborbital landing strut), and that may not be damaged on a rendezvous failure. Any spacecraft can take either one of each researched hardware (meaning that if you split a spacecraft, each new craft gets one of each) or you can take as many as you like without the stuff in brackets, so you need to plan ahead accordingly.
Planning ahead: To make the start of the game less boring (with you just researching and buying stuff for a couple of years), you can alternatively buy a S/L/R part for 1$ each if you do not have the technology yet. Thematically this means you give your spacecraft some hardware that might be necessary for the job without having figured out the software behind it yet. To research it, you will need to pay 2$ extra for EACH respective component that is not on earth and that you do not want to discard. This is to adapt the software and procedures to the hardware that is already out there in the solar system. You can discard these chits to make it cheaper on crafts you think will not need it any more, but they will not get the benefit.
Tell me what you think.