My first successful Very Hard solo game!
Mission layout was basically Venus or bust, with both Man on Venus and Sample Return out, and everything else from Mars (which wouldn't have gotten me enough points without also getting a Ceres sample). I decided to go for broke and try getting a manned mission to Venus, having run out of time twice in earlier games trying for Mars.
After two evenings of staring at mission planning sheets to finally get brave enough to try, I decided I wasn't brave enough to fly there blind. I used an unmanned capsule mission to test some rockets and life support tech, while listening to the advice to stop spending all my money removing Success results and take some more risks.
Pushing my capsule into Fly-By -> Orbit, the Sun turned out to be harmless, and I surveyed and....Supplies! Suddenly the mission got easier, with no need to carry 2 extra mass to keep me alive and get back to the transfer point, but I decided to test myself by pushing a Soyuz all the way to Venus anyway, just for the experience. That was...not easy. Cost me 4 Saturn rockets to get the whole manned mission launched.
My manned launch ran into problems from the jump: first time with men in suborbit, and radiation was bad. My medic is hurt, and Buzz decides to switch capsules in orbit and press on alone, leaving the re-entry capsule to return the injured man home.
By the time he reached Venus, I had started planning my Mercury survey mission, and had started testing re-entry, discovering a Minor Failure in the deck, but realizing Buzz had ample supplies on Venus to fix any broken parts, so that Minor became an effective Success!
After loading the sample, Mission Control ordered Buzz into the capsule for re-launch, but he refused to go. Nobody knows what he found for sure, but we can speculate, and he's still there now.
I intercepted my sample at the transfer point with a return rocket, but was one Atlas short of immediately forking off with an Eagle for Mercury, costing me an extra couple of years before getting an unmanned mission launched to survey there in 1976 and win the game on the last round.
Most jarring moment? Late game drawing a Major Failure on a Soyuz, after having drawn 6 Successes, including a couple with Buzz sitting on top.
Nice write up!