Watch the New Horizons mission in Kerbal Space Program


At this very moment, NASA's New Horizons spacecraft is blasting past Pluto, snapping photos, doing science, and sending all that glorious data back to us here on Earth. Isn't that amazing? You better believe it is. It's also something you can duplicate, if you've got the right stuff, in Kerbal Space Program.

You could also, if you don't really have the patience for this sort of thing, watch astronomer, YouTuber, and Kerbal Space Program aficionado Scott Manley do the job in the "Launching New Horizons" video he posted yesterday. In it, he talks about the real New Horizons mission, while simultaneously sending his own digital equivalent into the inky void. It goes well, although at around the two minute mark he says his model breaks down a bit, and the Realism Overhaul mod causes him a spot of grief—vapor in the feed lines—at about three minutes. It's all part of the fun.

It's not a picture-perfect duplication of the real thing, but it's a fascinating exercise, and it also illustrates the capabilities of Kerbal, especially when modded to the nines, as is the case here. Along with the Realism Overhaul, Manley's mission also uses the Real Scale Solar System, Procedural Fairings, Procedural Tanks, Real Fuels, and KW Rocketry mods, plus Raider Nick's US Probes Pack and the OMSK ULA Pack.

There are (slightly) less strenuous ways to undertake a mission to the edge of our solar system: The Outer Planets Mod, for instance, offers Kerbalized versions of Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto, as well as several of their moons. But even without the rest of the mods, getting there will be a tremendous challenge, and you'll need to "be ready to travel years or even decades" before you arrive. Want more? Don't miss our latest round-up of the Best Kerbal Space Program mods.

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.