Kerbal Space Program: better than working at NASA?

Comic: Randall Munroe, CC BY-NC 2.5

XKCD creator and real-life NASA alum Randall Munroe has mentioned Kerbal Space Program in previous comics, but this is the clearest endorsement of its educational value he’s given. And even as a layperson when it come to physics, I readily agree: it’s become natural for me to think in terms of moving frames of reference, conic section trajectories, and other unintuitive concepts we don’t need to deal with down here on the ground. Using a little spaceship to push big asteroids around also shows you how important it is to precisely align thrust vectors through the center of mass– which explains why the space shuttle had such weird, oddly-angled rocket engines!

As KerbalEdu nears completion, I hope more and more physics students get to supplement their classroom learning with guided Kerbal Space Program scenarios.