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Kerbal Space Program (often abbreviated KSP) is a sandbox, space flight simulator developed and published by Squad. Released in June 2011, it has gained a large following over the years via YouTube videos, fan art, tutorials, and the scientific community. KSP is currently in the alpha stage of development and is part of the Steam Early Access program.
Kerbal Space Program allows players to create and develop their own space program within a fictional solar system filled with planets and moons. The player creates multi-stage space vessels to be piloted by Kerbals, small green humanoids whom inhabit the world of Kerbin. The game also features a hanger for building air and space planes, a system for recruiting new Kerbonauts, and fully persistent space missions. KSP has an extensive modding community, some of whom have been hired by Squad due to their high quality work.
Kerbals are the denizens of Kerbin. They have green skin, large heads, bulging eyes and are approximately 1 meter in height. The player can command the Kerbals to leave their capsule to perform Extra Vehicular Activity such as space walks. Kerbals are shown to be dimwitted and prone to accidents as shown in the backgrounds of vehicle assembly buildings and the games various trailers (shown below).
KSP’s main focus is creating rockets and spaceplanes using an assortment of pre-designed ship parts and then launching them from either the launch pad or runway. The craft can be as simple or complicated as one could desire, so long as it can survive take off. Space stations can also be created by attaching modules with docking ports in orbit, as can interplanetary bases, although more tedious.
Although it seems easy by first impressions, flying your spacecrafts is daunting and requires you to conserve your fuel (or pack extra) in order to get to your destination, and to keep your thrust-to-weight ratio well enough that you can actually escape the atmosphere of Kerbin. Managing to accomplish that task is only the first step in your journey, which can lead to many more problems and/or the destruction of your craft.
Players are given a solar system (aptly named as the Kerbol system) analogous to our own to explore and create interstellar stations or ground bases. All of the analogues are compressed to approximately 1/10th of their real-life counterparts.
The order of each celestial body is as follows, (*) designates a planet and (-) designates a satellite for the planet listed above it:
- Kerbol = The Sun analogue. The game orbits around this quite literally.
- Moho = The Mercury analogue of the game. It is the closest planet to Kerbol.
- Eve = Purple planet with thick atmosphere and oceans.
- Gilly = A captured asteroid orbiting Eve that has exceptionally low gravity.
- Kerbin = Being the Earth analogue of the game, it is the home planet of the Kerbals and only object with life.
- Mun = As it is the Moon analogue, it is Kerbins largest and closest moon. Landing on the Mun is considered a milestone to many players.
- Minmus = A small, white and mint green moon orbiting Kerbin. Many believe the moon to be covered in ice. However, it is most likely to be of a brightly colored material.
- Duna = A dusty red planet analogous to mars.
- Ike = A small, rocky moon tidally locked with Duna.
- Dres = Small rocky celestial object that’s supposed to be a dwarf planet, despite having cleared it’s neighborhood. Ceres analogue.
- Jool = The Jupiter analogue. It is a green gas giant with many moons. True to its nature, you cannot land on it.
- Laythe = An ocean covered moon with an atmosphere and is also littered with small landmasses.
- Vall = Icy Moon. Possible Europa analogue.
- Tylo = Kerbin sized moon with no atmosphere.
- Bop = Captured asteroid sporting a giant crater.
- Pol = Small moon littered with ridges similar to a grain of pollen.
- Eeloo = Possible Pluto analogue that resembles Saturn’s moon Enceladus. It is the furthest planet from Kerbol and has a steep orbital inclination.
Kerbal Space Program has been praised by the scientific community for it’s accurate portrayal of Newtonian physics (althought P = NP still presents a problem). The game is currently being used as an education tool, as partnered with the TeacherGaming educational program, to explain the fundamentals of gravity and other laws of physics at classrooms all around the world. Youtuber and astronomer Scott Manley has helped popularize Kerbal Space Program with videos of tutorials and other game related content. Within 5 hours of the games release on Steam it reached the top 5 of best sold games and is currently the #3 best seller for linux on Steam.
Jedediah Kerman is a permanent Kerbal, amongst the only three permanent Kerbals, who is renown for his fearlessness and shameless badassery (even at death’s doorstep), often laughing maniacally regardless of the situation. His demeanor has led to the creation of advice animals and fan art.
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