Like many young people, I wanted to be an astronaut when I was young. Space exploration was the coolest thing imaginable, and being an astronaut was, to a young person, the only acceptable entry. That I was raised on a steady diet of space exploration science fiction also helped, of course.
When I believed that various minor health issues made space travel an impossibility for me, that particular dream died. I never completely lost touch with space, but it slowly faded into the background of my interests, rekindled on occasion by an interesting project or discovery. Unfortunately, just as NASA was neglected, as was my own love of space travel.
It's funny to me what brought back my love of space: it was these guys:
or more specifically, the game in which they star: Kerbal Space Program (KSP).
KSP is a game which is still under development, but available for purchase today if you're interested in what it has so far:
- A Sandbox: The game gives you rocket parts, plane parts, engines, fuel, wings, lights, antennae, struts, I-beams and more. Build what you want. Blow things up. Visit other planets. Visit one of the two moons of Kerbin. Visit both moons of Kerbin. Build a speedboat, just for fun. Build a flying suspension bridge:
- A career mode: Start with only the simplest parts. Do experiments, in different places to earn science, and more parts.
Playing KSP is a balance between fun, and literal rocket science. Blowing stuff up, and apoapsis and periapsis, retrograde and prograde, gravity turns, and delta-V. Lots of learning, but also, lots of fun.
I didn't really realize how much I had loved air and space as a child, nor how much I had revived that love with Kerbal Space Program until we went to the national air and space museum in Washington, D.C.
Andrea noticed it before I did, as I excitedly named almost everything I saw. When a tour guide approached, asking if we'd like some guidance, Andrea waved him off: "Apparently Matt has Wikipedia in his brain".
The trip to the Air and Space museum was my personal highlight of our trip to D.C. I was a little sad that we didn't get a chance to visit the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, which has some of the largest artifacts. Another time, I promise myself that.