Kerbal Space Program is… probably best described as a sandbox space program simulator. Except that doesn’t really tell you everything or even anything. Okay, so KSP is a game where you take control of the space program of an amusingly incompetent race called the Kerbals, build spacecraft of various types, try to get them into space and then try and do things with them. Things you can try to do include getting into a stable orbit of Kerbin (the Kerbals’ home planet), visiting the Mun (that’d be the moon), landing on the Mun, getting back to Kerbin and landing without exploding, crashing or crashing and then exploding. This is often rather hard because PHYSICS DAMN IT.
But I am not intimidated by no physics. I want to put a Kerbal on the Mun. I want to put a space station in orbit of Kerbin. I want to build a working space plane which doesn’t spin out of control when I try and maneuver. I want to go to Duna which I guess is the Mars analogue in this system since it’s red and… actually, that is the entire basis of that assumption. Oh, it’s also the next planet anti-sun-ward of Kerbin, so there’s that too. There are seven planets, many of which have various moons. There’s stuff out there just waiting to be discovered.
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We meet in a cafe noted for sandwiches, in a city known for biscuits, in a country known for tea and we stand in need of all three for it is four o’clock in the afternoon and I haven’t had any lunch yet.
We choose to go to the Mun. We choose to go to the Mun this afternoon and perhaps some other stuff too, not because they are easy but because they are not as hard as getting to bloody Duna and all those other planets.
In the last 24 hours we have seen facilities now being created for the greatest and most complex exploration in Kerbal history. We have felt the ground shake and the air shattered by the explosion of the Rockomax Mainsail engine, an explosion much more powerful than that of the LV-T30 which launched John Kerman through the hangar roof and into the field next door. We have seen the site where the rocket engines will be sticky-taped together into something that is less likely to blow the hell up within seconds of being turned on.
To be sure, this costs us all a good deal of money. This year’s space budget is three times what it was last week, and it is greater than the budget of the previous eight years combined – that is to say, it is more than zero. The budget now stands at twenty three pounds, an elastic band and four buttons – a staggering sum, but somewhat less than I spend on tea every year.
But if I were to say, my fellow Kerbals, that we shall send to the Mun, 11,400 kilometers away, a rocket made from new metal alloys, some of which have not yet been found by our scavenging and salvage teams, capable of standing heat and stresses to some extent, fitted together with a precision better than the finest cheap mass-produced digital watch, carrying at least some of the equipment needed for propulsion, guidance, control, communications, food and survival, on an untried mission, to an unknown celestial body, and then return it safely to Kerbin, re-entering the atmosphere at speeds of over 25 miles per hour, you would quite rightly point at me and laugh as you are right now. Yet I think we are going to do it. And it will be done before I get bored and go off to do something else, perhaps.
Right, Mr. President. You asked for it. Let’s build huge ballistic missiles, stick people in the top instead of a warhead and fire them off into an environment where no-one can possibly survive. Let’s go to the Mun. And perhaps some other things too.
To The Mun: The Icarus Program
This post will be updated as further articles in the series are added.