NASA challenges Kerbal players to mirror an upcoming launch to the International Space Station

(Image credit: Private Division)

For years, astronauts and cosmonauts have traveled to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz rockets launched from Kazakhstan. Later this month, however, NASA will try putting its people up there on a SpaceX rocket launched from the US, which is a pretty big deal.

To commemorate the big moment, Kerbal Space Program 2 publisher Private Division is challenging KSP players to recreate it in the game. Simulate the mission as accurately as possible based on the mission information listed on the page for DM-2, the final test flight before SpaceX's Crew Dragon is certified for operational missions. Make sure you record the flight, then condense your video footage and upload it to Twitter, either as a reply to the original tweet (below) or as a separate tweet tagging in @KerbalSpaceP, @NASA, and @SpaceX, with the #LaunchAmerica hashtag.

The rules seem pretty straightforward: You can use mods if you want, but you don't have to, and your video must be submitted by May 25 to be eligible. The best of them, as determined by unknown parties using an unknown formula, will be shared with NASA, which seems remarkably enthusiastic about the whole thing.

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The catch, of course, is that Kerbal Space Program is a notoriously twitchy, destruction-prone game. As 4000-hour players Daniel told us a couple of years ago, trying to put Kerbals in space "gets complicated, and then things explode." In fact, explosions came up almost immediately in our August 2019 interview with KSP2 creative director Nate Simpson, who said that they're his favorite part of the game to work on: "The explosions have gotten very exciting."

Kerbal Space Program 2 is currently expected to be out sometime before March 2021. The real-life DM-2 launch will be livestreamed on NASA TV, beginning at 12 pm ET on May 27—the actual launch is slated for 4:33 pm.

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.