Our guide to exploring deep space with Kerbal Space Program 2's For Science! Update
By Aron Garst, Contributor
This update has been sought after by the community since the sequel to Kerbal Space Program launched in Early Access in 2023. The sequel offered great upgrades to the creation tools, but it didn't have the structure that many fans were expecting. For Science! finally brings that blueprint to the game.
Kerbal Space Program 2 still has a ton of content to take in, and it can be quite intimidating for first timers and those who have taken a break from the game since it launched in February 2023. We have some tips to help you get on the right track when launching a rocket into space.
One small step for Kerbal
The biggest and most welcome addition the For Science! update brings to Kerbal Space Program 2 is a formal career mode. The Exploration mode brings a more structured play experience when compared to an open-ended sandbox.
Through the Exploration mode, Dr. Ker Kerman will give you a number of interesting and challenging missions to complete via the mission control room. You'll need to complete these tasks in order to advance the career mode and unlock new items and mechanics via the update's new tech progression tree.
These mission control segments will give you tips on how to prepare for each as well as a short debrief that will let you know if you've completed all your objectives. There is even a subtle story arc that will unfold during your time within Exploration mode.
Climbing a tree into space
The tech tree is the second major addition that changes how Kerbal Space Program 2 plays. It breaks down progression in Exploration mode into four tiers. Each tier represents a new distance that you'll be able to reach once you unlock all the necessary equipment.
The first branch of the tree will have you focus on your planet's immediate atmosphere, the "mun" (i.e. the moon), and other surrounding planetary bodies. Each unlock after that will have you venturing deeper into other planets and systems.
Everyone has to start the Exploration mode from scratch, meaning you'll have next to nothing unlocked when you begin. That means you'll be taking your Kerbal through the basic steps of orbiting the planet, landing on the mun, and other tasks that can be considered easy by space veterans, but are challenging for new players.
Don't want to spend a ton of time collecting science points and unlocking gear you may have already used? Hit Alt+F+8 to open the cheat menu and proceed however you see fit. This will allow you to test equipment however and wherever you want without being hampered by any in-game progression systems.
A self-imposed challenge
Kerbal Space Program 2 is all about exploring space at your own pace while challenging yourself to understand the complex science behind the equipment that makes that exploration possible. It may not be completely accurate to how NASA or the ESA handle their missions, but a lot of DNA is shared between those real-world organizations and this Kerbal-stuffed game.
One thing that NASA would never try is to challenge themselves to reach Mars with nothing but the most basic equipment. That, however, is something that is completely feasible—and even encouraged—in Kerbal Space Program 2.
Do you think you can reach far beyond the mun with nothing but tier 1 equipment? That's something that anyone in the Kerbal community can try out. The only consequence? Your poor Kerbal may end up stranded (or worse) during your many attempts at glory.
It's all For Science!
The entire reason we explore space is to collect data and learn more about the world around us. The exact same thing can be said about Kerbal Space Program 2. Like the first game, the object of the Exploration mode is to collect science points so you can unlock new equipment in progress further.
Click the flask on the left-hand side of the screen to perform experiments that help you earn science points. You'll receive notifications throughout your missions that let you know if certain experiments are available. Once you leave low orbit, for example, more experiments will become possible.
All you need to do is select the experiment and let it run in the background. Once complete, results can be transmitted back home easily. You'll receive science points as soon as the transmission is received.
Samples, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. You can't transmit them, so you'll need to make sure that both the sample and the spacecraft that carries it make it home safely if you want to receive your just rewards for collecting such a valuable specimen.
You can also head to mission control ahead of a launch in order to pick up a variety of science contracts. You can grab as many as you want and complete them alongside the other experiments you run while playing.
Taking a look at new equipment
The For Science! update brings many new pieces of equipment that offer a number of upgrades and easy-to-use additions that make life in space a little easier. Here is a quick list of each new piece of equipment.
The Star Lab
The Diving Bell
The WSRL Radiation Survey
Science Jr. Jr.
The Little Sniffer
The Air Sniffer
The Sample Grabber
Each of these items serve a unique purpose in collecting science when out in space. While you'll want to mess around with all of the above, we recommend sticking with Science Jr. while you unlock the majority of the first tech tree.
Discover the discoverables
We won't get too deep into this addition to Kerbal Space Program 2, as discovery is the entire point of the discoverables. A series of special surprises have been added across planets and systems that are just waiting to be found.
Some of these are Easter eggs that nod to the previous game, while others build out new lore for Kerbal Space Program. Each discoverable comes with their own unique biome and science points that will encourage you to find each and every one.
It's about the long haul
This tech tree has plenty of content to keep players occupied for the time being, but Intercept Games has far more planned in the future of Kerbal Space Program 2. The developers plan to add key new features that will rock the world of each and every Kerbal, including space colonies and interstellar travel.
The fourth tier of the tech tree—and further branches that are yet to be added—will be updated to include new technology that makes the above breakthroughs possible. There are still a number of other things that this update includes that I didn't touch on. Quality of life updates, new Kerbal designs, and major bug fixes make this update the best the game has seen since launch.
This For Science! update is a huge step forward in Intercept Games realizing their vision for a Kerbal Space Program 2 that exceeds the original game, and it's definitely worth your time and attention.
Kerbal Space Program 2 is now available on the Epic Games Store.