The Kerbal Space Program is a simulation game, released on Steam’s preliminary access in 2013, in which the players run an embryonic space program developed by the Kerbals. These little green humanoid-y objects are trendy, and one of the fun of the game is to watch these muppet-ish characters challenge the game’s most profound physics system: if your skill level is the same as mine, it usually doesn’t. Well done to them.
But I think Boeing’s engineers are very good at the game, and they like it. The Starliner company capsule recently landed at the International Space Station. It brought an unexpected passenger on board: Jebediah Kerman, one of the first four Kerbals from the game, was tied up next to a humanoid test dummy.
This fits in with Starliner’s narrative: the project had fewer profile failures, and in popular opinion, it lagged behind other private space exploration efforts like SpaceX. The various errors followed by the booming launch sound like the Kerbal Space System.
This is also a cultural phenomenon in space flight. The first successful astronaut, Yuri Gagarin, carried a small doll (which opens in a new tab) to watch it float as it entered the trail in 1961. Using the toy as a ‘zero-g’ indicator, this working app persisted: the following: his flight Gagarin was later given to a Geisha doll in Japan, which Japanese journalist Toyohiro Akiyama took thirty years later to the skies. The first teddy bear in space, Magellan T. Bear, rose in 1995 and is now a Smithsonian.