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Kerbal Space Program launches new update on astronaut John Glenn's birthday

Today's update for Kerbal Space Program, the quirky spaceflight simulator, adds a quest system, allowing would-be astronauts a more challenging experience. The release was accompanied by the animated trailer, "Jeb's Junkyard."

Update 0.24, called First Contract, adds features to the game's nascent Career mode, which was itself launched just last fall. By taking on Contracts players can earn Reputation, which in turn offers players more challenging and dangerous Contracts.

"First Contract is a massive step forward for Career mode," says creator and lead developer Felipe Falanghe. "It's added new challenges for even the most veteran players."

Types of Contracts include testing new rocket parts under strenuous flight conditions, making specific scientific discoveries and planting the Kerbal flag on unexplored planets.

The update released late last night, the eve of the birthday of Senator John Glenn. The 93-year old astronaut and Marine Corp combat aviator was the first American, and only the fifth human, in space.

Sunday will also mark the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

"If we can generate even a bit of the interest in space that those events did," says Ted Everett, KSP's QA Lead, "then we're doing a lot of good."

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