The Sounds of Kerbal Space Program 2: How an Emotional Real-Life Rocket Launch Changed the Game

In the new game Kerbal Space Program 2, a real rocket sound is heard during launches.

KSP2 released in Early Access for PC gamers on February 1st. 24 with many new features for fans of realistic space games, such as an expanded training system for beginners, more rockets and more destinations. According to KSP2 officials, the early release doesn’t have all the features yet, but there will be more in the coming weeks and months.

Kerbal Space Program 2 (KSP2) sound engineer Howard Mostrom captured footage from the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V twin satellite launch on October 4, 2022. He reworked the sound on Earth for other places in the game, such as the Moon or Mars, which have different atmospheres (or none at all).

Mostrom described the launch and even fueling of’s rocket as “big, disruptive, and loud,” adding that he enjoyed watching workers at work at the sites. “There are so many interesting sounds going on, so I use a lot of that atmosphere in the launchpad game. That in itself was very, very compelling to me,” he said.

Read more: Kerbal Space Program 2 is here! Ignite the joy with exploding rockets today

Like many rocket observers, Mostrom found that observing his first launch took years of trying. Even the launch of ULA, after confirmation, had to be delayed due to hurricane activity by about a week; he added.

Mostrom had to set up his microphones next to the rocket about a day before launch and said he was working to get “maximum dynamic range”. The recording was done in 32-bit high definition, using nine condenser microphones on site and 14 more elsewhere. The installation produced about 600 gigabytes of data, which was compressed for the gaming experience.

Dealing with the inevitable technical issues, he said, “was pretty stressful given all that time frame,” but the protection he built into the equipment worked well. He had windscreens and other coatings to stop water splashing, although he subsequently had to clean everything by hand to keep the smell of kerosene (RP-1) from remaining on the equipment.

A shot from one of the trailers for Kerbal Space Program 2, the sequel to the popular space simulator. (Image credit: private division)

Mostrom called the launch itself a life-changing experience that he went out of his way to bring to the game: “It was so amazing. To be honest, I don’t know how I didn’t cry. It was very emotional. I mean, I didn’t even sleep last night, there were so many in line and I couldn’t wait.”

He added that ULA representatives and many other people at the launch approached him during launch to talk about how much they enjoyed the game. Kerbal employees, including Mostrom, have sought to inspire the next generation by developing the successor to the popular game released in 2011.

“I see it in my family. I can see that my son loves rockets and rocket science. And I see that my daughter is interested in science and all this just because of this game. It’s very, very humble to see just how influential this game is. maybe for the scientific community and the world at large,” he said.

Elizabeth Howell is co-author of Why Am I Taller? (will open in a new tab)? (ECW Press, 2022; with Canadian astronaut Dave Williams), space medicine book. Follow her on Twitter @howellspace (will open in a new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (will open in a new tab) or facebook (will open in a new tab).

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