Friday Fun! Fulfill Childhood Dreams With Kerbal Space Program

Space: the final frontier.

Many children dream of becoming astronauts when they grow up. If that happened to be you, now’s your chance to fulfill that fantasy. Not only will you be piloting your (hopefully) space-bound craft in Kerbal Space Program, you also get to design it!

Kerbal Space Program tasks you with getting the titular Kerbal race into orbit. In order to accomplish this monumental feat you need to design, build, and fly the rocket yourself.

The design phase, easily the most important, also happens to be the most fun. Your design needs to be sound in order for your rocket to go anywhere, so it’s usually best to start with something based on a real life design. Too little thrust and it won’t even get off the launching pad, while too much thrust will make it uncontrollable. It sounds intimidating at first, but after a bit of trial and error you start to get a feel for what might work and what won’t.

Since the game is still technically in the alpha stage of development, the choice of spaceship parts is a bit thin. Even with a limited inventory to choose from there are still enough variations on designs to keep things interesting. The promise of a wider variety of machinery in future versions certainly is appealing, though.

Needless to say, this design wasn't very stable

Once you’ve constructed your monstrosity… ahem… your masterpiece of modern engineering, it’s time to head to the launch pad. After providing your own countdown and hitting the ignition switch, your next task is to guide your baby into space. Depending on the robustness of your design, this may or may not be easy. A quick crash and burn might be more likely for your first few spaceship designs.

What happens once you reach space? Well, nothing, really. No fanfare greets you, there isn’t any confetti or champagne. If you like you can manually set yourself into orbit around the planet, or, if you have enough fuel, simply turn around and try to land safely back on Earth.

Kerbal Space Program might still be in the early stages of development, but it manages to capture the magic of space travel perfectly. Designing and constructing rockets gave me a childlike giddiness I haven’t felt since I started playing with Legos. I’m really looking forward to seeing where the game goes from here!

Kerbal Space Program can be downloaded for free from the official website. If you’re having trouble getting started, give the official Wiki a look or check out some of the design videos players have posted on YouTube.