Kerbal Space Program, an intricately detailed computer simulator game that lets you build rockets and manage your own space program, is preparing for lift-off. After several years of development in ”early access mode”—during which it became a favorite of SpaceX CEO Elon Musk—KSP is launching version 1.0 today.
KSP lets users build everything from rudimentary rockets to space stations, probes, and asteroid mining operations, based on realistic physics and orbital mechanics. The game’s small green astronauts are known as “Kerbals,” and there will be female as well as male Kerbals in the new release.
The game, made by the developer Squad, has some fans at NASA: The US space agency helped to develop a Kerbal mission earlier this year that lets players redirect a rogue asteroid.
Musk jokingly told Reddit users in January that SpaceX uses Kerbal for its software testing, and went on to call the game “awesome.”
In a Reddit Q&A session of their own, Kerbal’s producers were asked: “Has Elon Musk ever called you and said, ‘Why isn’t my rocket landing in real life? It landed in the game like a hundred time[s]!'” A Kerbal producer replied that Musk “plays in ultrahard mode”—presumably meaning real life—”and he already has the best people possible helping him.”