Docking Exercises

So after beginning with a pair of mapping missions, fully intending to proceed to robotic landers and rovers, I've switched to manned (kerballed?) missions for absolutely no good reason.

This sequence has had four launches: Skippy I, which was a launch vehicle and orbital dynamics test (ie: would the launcher get into orbit, be able to maneuver, and return without killing the occupants?):
Skippy I  Launch
This was such a success that before it even returned I launched the identical Skippy II with an eye towards trying for a docking.  I modified the lifter a bit because Skippy I ended up on orbit with less fuel than I would have liked; the extra boosters made enough of a difference that I ended up with plenty of fuel on orbit in Skippy II. 
Skippy II: solids for a little extra push into orbit
....and after chasing Skippy I all over the sky and not getting any closer than about 20km, I gave up and returned Skippy I to Kerbin while there was still fuel aboard to make that a worth while pursuit.  The immediate follow-up mission was Skippy III, which was also targeted at a docking with Skippy II.  Interestingly, the exact same crew from Skippy I, Jeb, Bill, and Bob, was drawn for Skippy III.. well I found it interesting.  

It turns out that if you read the documentation on the navball *before* trying an intercept, the glyphs make a lot more sense.  This time the intercept happened much more smoothly, and shortly before orbital dusk I had Skippys I and II in the same postal code ready for final dockings.  And of course this meant that this attempt was going to happen in the dark. 
Like two teenagers fumbling around in the dark
It wasn't totally unaided -- I had Kerbal Engineer going to give me the separation and velocity vector component values.  But I did fly it in, and...
First Docking!
Success!  I took the requisite screen shots and transferred fuel back and forth because I could now.

So the whole point of docking is to have something to dock with, right?  Right.  So even before separating the two Skippys, I built a primitive space station spine, and sat it on a modified Skippy called a Silverado, and then put the whole thing on a suitably-overkill lifter arrangement: 
Station Spine with lifter
Launch went so well the station found itself in a 150x150km orbit after only a few tweaks.  And then I thought... why not send one of the Skippys up to it?  I put all the fuel in Skippy II, and sent the three rock stars in Skippy III back home (well, back down anyways -- landing navigation is something we still need to work on) on the strength of the RCS (which was totally sufficient for that).  And then I sent Skippy II chasing off after the space station.

I like this picture since it shows Skippy II approaching the space station, while conveying how vast and empty even near-Kerbin orbit is.
Skippy II approaches Texaco I
This time I had the extra Docking Port Alignment plugin enabled, and after a bit of trying to figure out what it was trying to tell me it guided me right in: 
Between watching the Navball, Engineer, and the DPA I didn't spend much time actually watching the docking.  I'm doing more and more by flying the ball and instruments rather than looking at the screen, so I'm thinking I might have to actually start recording my dockings and intercepts so that I can actually watch them later.

But I am pleased that I've managed two rendezvous and dockings this weekend and figured out a bunch of the plugins.

My ultimate goal is a couple of orange tanks on the space station, and I'm thinking I need some proper orbital facilities for Kerbals to live in, as well as both a manned and remotely operated tug vehicle.  So we'll probably do the tug next, and then send up some habitation modules as well.