Yesterday the final update for Kerbal Space Program came out, Version 1.12, “On Final Approach”. I cannot overstate how important KSP was to the development of my passion for spaceflight.

Back in 2011, KSP version 0.7.3 came out as a free game. I found out about it through a YouTuber by the name of KurtJMac, who is most known for the series “Far Lands Or Bust’. I had been vaguely following space and astronomy through his commentary while playing games, and the odd video he would make about astronomical events and such.

KSP 0.7.3 had no Mun, the sun was a sprite in the sky, and all you could do was orbit Kerbin. There were a handful of parts and no stability assists available. I remember downloading it and connection my old laptop’s VGA port up to the TV, so I could play the game on the big screen, at the lowest resolution possible, at a glorious single-digit frame rate. It certainly wasn’t pretty, and I had absolutely no understanding of orbital mechanics. It was probably a few more updates before I learned how to achieve a stable orbit.

Many more updates on, new parts were added, rendezvous became a reality, and the modding scene began to take off. In those early days I did perform everything manually, from figuring out transfer windows with a protractor held to my screen, to pulling and pushing at manoeuvrer nodes to line up intercepts with other spacecraft for docking. It wasn’t too long though before I discovered the mod MechJeb, an autopilot addon which I still use to this day.

Is MechJeb cheating? Honestly? I’d say no. It does remove a lot of the math from the game (although you do still need to design a functioning vehicle with enough delta-V to get around) but no astronaut has ever flown stick into space before, to my knowledge. It allows for repeatability and to rapidly test rocket designs, without the human element involved. I do slightly miss flying spacecraft manually, as the game nowadays does feel like I’m pushing buttons and nothing more, watching a computer do all the hard work.

Eventually after discovering another YouTuber by the name of Scott Manley I began to get a better grasp of the physics involved in spaceflight and designing a good spacecraft. Terms such as delta-V and specific impulse were introduced to me. It was at this point I managed to easily push myself out of the Kerbin system and onto the planets beyond.

There are still things I haven’t done in Kerbal Space Program. I’ve yet to properly get a kerbal to and from Eeloo, and getting back from the surface of Eve is.. not something that appeals to me. Mods have helped prolong my enjoyment of the game too, with realistic engines and more unforgiving simulation settings. I don’t really know how much more I can squeeze out of the game, I’ve sunk so much time into it, that it feels like there’s nothing left to do, even though there is.

Kerbal Space Program is a comfort game for me. I can always load it up, throw together a quick rocket, watch it go, and close it down after ten minutes. One day I hope I’ll boot it up proper again and do something cool, like a big space station that goes between planets or setting up a proper base at the edge of the star system. It’s a game that has been with me throughout many points in my life, and it’s weird to see it coming to an end. Still, after a decade of free updates and expansions, you can’t really complain, can you?

My thanks go out to the entire team and Squad, both past and present. Thank you for being a part of my life, and inspiring an interest in aerospace and astronomy. It didn’t change the path of my career like others, but it gave me some strength to keep going during trying times, knowing that there are still people who want to explore for the sake of exploration, and that sometimes.. you just have to do something because it’s fun.