Some people at NASA are using Kerbal Space Program to experiment in ways that real-world environments wouldn’t allow.

Kerbal Space Program has spread beyond the gaming community. Just ask NASA, they are fans. Doug Ellison, who works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, thinks KSP fills a crucial gap in communicating the science in a playful simulation context.

“I think we do a great job,” he says. “But we probably fall short when it comes to engaging in a way that could be considered ‘play.’ We share what we do, but it’s hard to let the public … ride along on our adventure.”

He (Doug Ellison) notes that many at NASA use KSP to experiment in ways that their more unforgiving real-world environment wouldn’t allow them to do. In essence, they can do a rough test of the many strange ideas that never quite make it off the ‘sketch on a napkin’. This allows them to save time, money, and manpower while possibly having a little fun with “rocket science” too.

kerbal space launch disaster

The phrase ‘rocket science’ is too often used to describe anything that is complex and hard to understand. This is applied to many domains including spaceflight itself. However, this label doesn’t feel appropriate. Spaceflight isn’t impossible to understand, it’s just hard without a way to visualize the relationship between a set of interrelated properties and constraints. Package all of that into a fun simulator and you have a recipe for an underground and almost overnight success.

The developer of Kerbal Space Program, Felipe Falanghe, has announced and has begun work on its successor, Kerbal Space Program 2, a major update and expansion of the original game. Including, of course, a much-desired expansion of the Kerbals themselves, who will now apparently react physically and emotionally to the orientation and transit of the spacecraft. I don’t know whether that will make me feel more engaged or more terrible as another of my spacecraft hurtles uncontrollably through space.

Do you want to try your hand at “rocket science” but can’t afford the fuel or the rocket itself? No worries. You can grab a FREE TO OWN copy of it from the Epic Game store anytime between now and January 12th at the link provided below.

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One last thing, if you like this article and wanna learn MORE about video games, electronics, and movies weekly without having to strain your braincells too hard, tune in to my new show, Crash Course every Thursday from Noon PST until around 2 pm (that’s 3 to 5 pm EST for you east coast peoples).

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Get Your Free Copy of Kerbal Space Program Here!!

You can grab a FREE TO OWN copy of it from the Epic Game store anytime between now and January 12th. Just follow this handy link.


James G. Kennedy
James G. Kennedy