Kerbal Space Program partners with European Space Agency for real space missions

Players will build an Ariane 5 rocket and take on real ESA missions in this new free update

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The next update for Kerbal Space Program has just been announced. “Shared Horizons”, due for release on July 1st, will let players construct rockets based on the Ariane 5 rocket, and take on scenarios based on real-life ESA missions.

There’s the BepiColombo Mercury explorer mission, a rocket that launched in 2018 and is still en route to the closest planet to our sun. This is recreated in-game with a mission to Moho, the closest planet to the sun in the Kerbal Universe.

Then there’s the Rosetta comet chaser mission, based on a ten-year mission to carefully place a lander on a comet as it was orbiting the sun. This will see players take on a similar challenge.

The ESA Director of Science Günther Hasinger said this of this partnership between real-world space explorers and game creators:

“Here at ESA, many of our engineers and scientists are very familiar with the Kerbal Space Program. Both Rosetta and BepiColombo are highly complex missions that have specific challenges but prove to be very rewarding for ESA and the global scientific community. Because of this, I am very happy that these ground-breaking science missions can be experienced on Kerbin as well as on Earth.”

Players can also use the components from the Ariane 5 rocket to build their own custom rockets using other in-game parts, remixing designs to come up with different styles.

The very first version of Kerbal Space Program was released way back in 2011 and was considered by many to be the poster child for how to handle commercially releasing games that are still under development. They had consistent updates throughout development, great communication with players, and even in its most basic form it was already a fun premise: Building rockets to launch into space, with realistic and punishing physics.

The version 1.0 was released to critical and commercial success back in 2015, but they’ve continued to work on it still to this day. There’s been a ton of updates and additional content released, much of it free. This latest update comes even as they have announced that they are busy working on a sequel.

If you’ve already got the game, you’ll be able to download the Shared Horizons update for free when it releases on July 1st, and if you’ve not already got the game, it’s currently 75% off on Steam.

And just for fun, why not take a look at this ESA video showing how the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic can be seen even from space.