With the lumbering, sad, forgotten relic that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration has become in the last 10 years, thanks to increasingly ridiculous cuts to its budget because apparently space exploration is somehow not necessary anymore, I’ve had to foster my love of the stars elsewhere. The best place I’ve found to do so, by far, is Kerbal Space Program, the ludicrously adorable rocket building simulator that allows the common man to go the moon and beyond. It is so freeing, and so much fun, that I will get locked into it for hours and hours, building failure after failure before finally getting one rocket into orbit and it is SO SATISFYING.
Sorry, what was this about? Oh, right; NASA and the developers of Kerbal Space Program, Squad, are collaborating to add an actual theoretical NASA mission to the game that you can attempt to accomplish.
Announced today at South-by-Southwest, NASA and Squad will be adding one of NASA’s most legendary future missions to the game; the asteroid intercept. Along with realistic NASA parts for building spacecrafts, the update will add a three-part mission to the game, base on the real three step plan NASA has for a redirect operation.
- Identify: You must detect and select the asteroids you wish to move.
- Redirect: Build your rocket, set a course to the asteroid you’re targeting, then position your rocket so it can change the course of the rock.
- Research: Send your Kerbal astronauts out on an EVA around the asteroid to collect materials, do experiments, and gather scientific data.
And then there’s the matter of, you know, getting home again. NASA sees this as a great opportunity to drive up interest in human exploration of the stars, and I so agree. KSP is the most entertaining thing to happen to space travel since Curiosity hit Mars, and it has a large player base. When people see something NASA totally plans on doing within their control, interest in NASA could skyrocket. In a world where our urge to reach to the stars is lower than ever, even a tiny boost like this should be celebrated.
You can buy Kerbal Space Program right now on Steam for $26.99, and this mission has no announced release date at this time.