Kerbal Space Program Game Poster Image

Kerbal Space Program



Rocket-building sim helps determined kids reach the stars.
Parents recommendPopular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Players select rocket ship parts, assemble them in a hangar, and then launch their rockets to see how they perform. Kids can set specific goals, such as getting into orbit or reaching a moon. Underlying the construction and flight phases is a solid simulation that utilizes astrodynamics and physics, and players who take the time to observe flight read-outs and use the provided controls to affect a ship’s trajectory will learn the fundamentals of rocket science and realistic, modern-day space flight.

Positive messages

Encourages problem solving, perseverance through building, testing.

Positive role models

Players' ships are crewed by courageous astronauts.

Ease of play

Easy to play with rockets, but more challenging missions can be very difficult unless you first watch online video tutorials. Part of game's draw is robust online community support.

Violence & scariness

Rockets can explode, causing non-human astronauts to disappear, but death isn't shown.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Kerbal Space Program is a space-themed engineering simulation that focuses on creativity as well as trial and error. It allows kids to build and test rocket ships using a highly visual creation tool similar to Spore's creature creator. The ships are crewed by little green astronauts, who do not feature prominently in the game. Many launches end in catastrophe and explosions. Most often the astronauts survive, but sometimes they disappear. Death isn't directly depicted.

What's it about?

KERBAL SPACE PROGRAM is like a NASA simulator except it takes place in a fictional star system on the planet Kerbin. Players purchase various rocket parts such as engines and fuel canisters, put them together, and then see if they can get their ships into orbit, to one of Kerbin’s two moons, or even to another planet. The star system closely resembles our solar system, but the planet is populated with cute little green men reminiscent of the minions in Despicable Me.

Is it any good?


This space based simulation will be fun for determined, science-loving kids who can take the time to observe flight read-outs and use the provided controls to tinker with trajectory. They'll learn the fundamentals of rocket science and realistic, modern-day space flight. Though the amount of feedback can be overwhelming, the player community on the game's forums and on YouTube is robust and helpful and provides a rich resource for self-directed learning.

Players can and do provide feedback and feature suggestions. Now that it's finally been released, it sports a career mode with a series of missions, a limited parts-buying budget, and a personnel manager. But players should be aware that the game is a sandbox, meaning that players set their own challenges. What emerges are unique, self-designed experiences that nicely highlight the trials and tribulations of space flight.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about how this game is designed to encourage trial-and-error problem solving.

  • Are simulations that are focused on building and creating more or less fun than violent games?

  • How can you protect your identity and privacy when/if you participate in Kerbal Space Program's online community? 

Game details

Platforms:Linux, Mac, Windows
Subjects:Hobbies: building
Science: momentum, motion, physics
Skills:Tech Skills: digital creation
Thinking & Reasoning: applying information, hypothesis-testing, prediction, problem solving
Creativity: developing novel solutions, making new creations
Self-Direction: effort, goal-setting, work to achieve goals
Emotional Development: persevering
Pricing structure:Free to Try, Paid ($39.99, free demo)
Available online?Available online
Release date:June 24, 2011
Topics:Space and aliens
ESRB rating:NR

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What parents and kids say

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Teen, 13 years old Written byMath02u3 October 12, 2013

Great game; worth your money.

Firstly, the negative factors. Violence may be a concern for some, due to the fact that engine malfunctions may cause explosions which kill "kerbals," who prudently populate Kerbin, the planet where the kerbals live. Kerbals are also able to fall from vehicles to death, in which there is a slight puff of smoke. Blood/gore is not represented at all. However, this game allows children to explore physics and try to reach the stars. It's not easy—just getting into orbit is a tough, intense task. But this allows for many hours of playing time. There's no multiplayer aspect, which makes sure that there's no issues with language or other factors. No purchases are "pushed" beyond getting the game; another product called "the kerbalizer" is available but strictly optional.
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Kid, 10 years old March 11, 2014

Ksp: fun, good and sometimes furstrating.

this game is very fun, but your kids must not freak out that they can't do it (it took me over 20 tries to get into orbit.) you will learn some physics, yet it is still fun. currently (V., which is basicly 0.23) the touritalls are old, which don't help (will be reworked in the next update). I played it for 5 months and i have went to jool and made a moon collony (jool is a planet in the game). it is recommened to watch scott manley's videos on ksp. this game has many mods just for you to know. you want to watch before you play this game. overall this is a bad review but the game is still very fun and can be very hard.
Kid, 10 years old January 10, 2014

kerbal space program

its a fun game and i learned a lot from it
What other families should know
Great messages
Great role models