Despite its cute and cuddly appearance, Kerbal Space Program is a pretty hardcore simulator of running a space agency, backed up by hard science and realistic physics. Now, it seems, the game is to get an all-new dose of realism thanks to a partnership with NASA.
Announced in time for SXSW Gaming this weekend, the partnership will see the game getting a new update based on a real-life three-part mission that began last year and is projected to be completed in 2022. Asteroid Redirect Mission, as both the update and the real-life mission are known, is intended to culminate with a manned mission onto an orbital asteroid beyond the Moon.
Before that, though, there's a three-step process to follow -- again, both in the game and in reality. Firstly, the asteroids that are targeted for being moved must be identified and distinguished. Next, a rocket ship must be built to intercept the asteroid and redirect it. Finally, the manned mission will conduct experiments on the asteroid and gather scientific data.
The update will include a dozen new parts inspired by real-life NASA technology, including the game's biggest fuel tanks to date and a robotic grappling device that can be used not only for grabbing asteroids, but other things, too. These parts can be used both in the structured Asteroid Redirect Mission and in the game's freeform sandbox mode.
"The collaboration with Kerbal Space Program can help drive interest by future explorers in next-generation technology development and deep space exploration," said NASA's deputy associate administrator for communications Bob Jacobs. "Having an element of the experience based in the reality of NASA's exploration initiatives empowers players to manage their own space program while getting valuable insight into the reality of studying asteroids as a next step in getting to Mars."
The collaboration will be fully revealed on stage at SXSW this Saturday.