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Kerbal Space Program and NASA team up with rocket parts and an asteroid mission

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Kerbal Space Program developer Squad and NASA have teamed up to bring realistic rocket parts and the Asteroid Redirect Mission to the space simulation game.

KSP's upcoming mission shares it name with a NASA initiative that began in 2013 and will culminate in 2022 when a manned mission explores an asteroid. The game's mission has similar thematic objectives: identifying, intercepting and sending your Kerbals to conduct experiments on asteroids. The expansion will include "nearly a dozen new parts," according to the developer. Those include the game's largest fuel tanks and a robotic grappling device.

To celebrate the partnership, NASA and Squad will speak March 8 at a South by Southwest panel called NASA and Kerbal Space Program: The Asteroid Mission In Real and Virtual Worlds, where "NASA scientists and KSP developers will swap stories and share details about how the mission in both the real and virtual worlds is going to make a meaningful impact on how we view our place in the universe." Attendees will also get their first look at the Asteroid Redirect Mission.

"The collaboration with Kerbal Space Program can help drive interest by future explorers in next-generation technology development and deep space exploration," said Bob Jacobs, NASA's deputy associate administrator for communications. "Having an element of the experience based in the reality of NASA’s exploration initiatives empower 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."

Kerbal Space Program is available now for Linux, Mac and Windows PC through Steam Early Access for $26.99. For more on the game and how its creators got NASA's attention, be sure to read Polygon's KSP feature.