2204: Ksp 2

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Ksp 2
"The committee appreciates that your 2020 launch is on track, but the 'human capital/personnel retention' budget includes a lot more unmarked cash payments than usual. What are th--" "Public outreach."
Title text: "The committee appreciates that your 2020 launch is on track, but the 'human capital/personnel retention' budget includes a lot more unmarked cash payments than usual. What are th--" "Public outreach."


Cueball, a programmer, is sitting at his computer while four other persons from NASA, Hairy, Ponytail, Hairbun and another Cueball-like person try to convince him to delay the release of a sequel to Kerbal Space Program (KSP 2).

Kerbal Space Program (KSP for short) is a space flight simulation video game with a Keplerian orbital physics engine, allowing for semi-realistic orbital maneuvers. KSP is a recurring theme in xkcd. A sequel, abbreviated here as KSP 2, was planned at the time of the comic's publication to be released in 2020, although it was delayed and released in February 2023.

Also planned for 2020 is the Perseverance mission, a mars rover originally named Mars 2020, which successfully landed. The joke in the comic comes as engineers are likely to want to extensively play with KSP 2 to the exclusion of other things, and NASA is worried about the Mars 2020 mission being delayed or failing because the engineers are too focused on playing KSP 2, including taking an extended vacation and "sick" days off.

Cueball, sitting at a desk in front of a computer, is represented here as being in charge of KSP 2, and the other characters standing around him are pleading with him to delay the release of KSP 2 until the Mars rover program is complete, even being willing to "give [him] a moon".

Offering to give somebody the moon occurs occasionally in songs and poetry, as an idiom meaning desire to offer something of great value, or expressing great desire to please. Literally giving a moon to Cueball is impossible,[citation needed] but it is possible to name a moon after Cueball, so that may be what is implied instead. This could also be a reference to the film Despicable Me, which revolves around Gru and his Minions trying to steal the Moon. The Kerbals (mascots of Kerbal Space Program) resemble the Minions from the film.

The title text is a sentence said by someone from a committee in NASA that oversees the progress and budget of the Mars 2020 mission. They are satisfied that the launch in 2020 is still on track, but has a question regarding the 'human capital/personnel retention' budget, which has several unmarked cash payments, more than they would expect. As they begin to ask what they are, someone from the Mars 2020 project interrupts, having probably foreseen this question, stating that it is Public outreach.

In the original Kerbal Space Program, playing in career mode, the player can select various "strategies" at the administration building to exchange or boost various assets. "Public Outreach" appears similar to the "Public Relations" strategy "Appreciation Campaign", which exchanges a portion of in-game money earned completing mission contracts for prestige, which has an effect on mission contracts the game makes available.

The title text suggests NASA could be paying Private Division, the developers of Kerbal Space Program, money to delay their release until after the Mars mission.

NASA has dabbled in game physics engines for "public outreach," with the same mixed record of success as any promising R&D endeavor. Pertinent projects included a series of collaboration laboratories on various forms of social media including Second Life which hosted a "NASA CoLab" region active from 2007 to around 2013. While the unrealistic constraints imposed by real-time physics engine simulation prevented much actual engineering, such shared 3D computer aided design (CAD) systems provide a measure of drafting training in a play sandbox system outside of a formal work environment. NASA frequently holds design competitions, including some in which winning participants have spoken highly of KSP, and some of which are used for developments in medical informatics, for example, outside the field of aerospace engineering and space colonization simulation. The use of game development competitions to assist scientific progress is also used in the Fold.it competitive protein folding game, where the winners build antibodies to save the lives of those who have health care. Such efforts have often been supported by SBIR-sized government agency grants from several countries, along with other individuals (i.e., customer) support and help from organizations to build software improving competitive score achievement. NASA has also been involved in asking software publishers to remove, withdraw, or restrict their releases, such as the COMSOL plasma physics engine library, rumored to be useful for the design of nuclear weapons. But whether any government agency has ever paid for the delay of a computer simulation game in order to increase their productivity is an open question.

An alternative suggestion of the title text is that NASA gave cash to employees, their families, friends, associates, and foreign spy followers to purchase additional copies of KSP 2 to encourage development innovations, international collaboration, as a "force multiplier" for personnel retention, and as bonus incentive awards for engineers who are ahead of schedule for their part of the Mars 2020 launch.


[Cueball is sitting in an office chair at his desk in front of a computer. He is surrounded by four people, and is looking over his shoulder at the ones standing behind him, Hairy - holding his palms up - and Ponytail stretching her arms out towards him. On the other side of the desk is another Cueball-like guy holding his arms out palms up and Hairbun who stretches her arms out to the side.]
Hairy: Please hold off until the end of summer. We can't afford the personnel hit right before the late July launch window.
Ponytail: People have already started calling in sick!
Hairbun: Do you want a moon? We'll give you a moon!
[Caption below the panel:]
NASA tries desperately to get the Kerbal Space Program team to delay KSP 2 until after the Mars 2020 mission launches.

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Can someone create a KSP category? I don't have the rights to do that. Comics for that category include this one, 1356:_Orbital_Mechanics, 1350:_Lorenz, 1244: Six Words, 1106: ADD. There may be others as well. 18:05, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

Yes I have done so: Category:Kerbal Space Program. And found three more for a total of 8. Also a couple that "may" be a reference, but those I have not included. Just did a Kerbal search... --Kynde (talk) 11:36, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

In the explanation, I took the "Unmarked Cash Payments" to be payoffs to the KSP2 team to delay their launch. OhFFS (talk) 18:07, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

Hmm, that could be true too. Feel free to modify the explanation to add that. 18:18, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

Are NASA engineers here splitting their time between working for both NASA and the KSP team (as suggested by the current explanation, as in actual 'moonlighting') or is it just that they're the kind of people who may 'catch' 24-hour flu to cover up their over-use of personal time to just enjoy the release as per all the other potentially fanatical but somewhat more armchair-expert individuals out there. I first understood the "Moon" people as being the actual KSP devs called in by NASA managemenr to persuade them to stagger their project away from NASA's (although I suppose it would have been more obviously that if it was a conference table setting, being faced over, rather than some typical office desk), with similar thoughts about the above cash payments comment (though I suppose it could be using petty-cash for site licensing or similar?)... Either way, I'm sure the "moonlighting" pun could be added into the explanation, if someone else would like to! ;) 18:25, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

I'm pretty sure the joke is that NASA engineers would be too busy playing KSP2 to assist the lunch, similarly to how MMORPG players take vacation when a new expansion comes out. That seems more in line with them taking sick days and NASA executives having to bribe the videogame company to make it stop, as opposed to suing their own engineers because they call in sick to take a second job.-- 18:54, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
I agree. I don't think the same people working for NASA are also working for the private Mexico-based company Squad that created KSP and are creating KSP 2. The real joke is that the NASA engineers are likely to want to play with the new KSP, to the extent they would take vacation and sick days off to play it. If an engineer were truely working for two companies, they would still be required to come to work and couldn't just decide to stop working -- aside from abusing paid time off policies. -boB (talk) 19:37, 18 September 2019 (UTC)
Correction: Its Star Theory that's making KSP2, while SQUAD is currently maintaining KSP1. While SQUAD and Star Theory have been discussing over the development, Star Theory is independent from SQUAD. However, both are affiliated with Private Division. (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)
Fixed it. Playing with KSP2 is now the primary, with programming it being an alternate explanation. -boB (talk) 20:11, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

No Linux support for KSP 2... My disappointment is measurable. Linker (talk) 20:30, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

Can you run Windonts or RDP to a cloud server? 03:19, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

I think "give you the moon" may be a reference to the movie It's a Wonderful Life. Barmar (talk) 20:38, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

I agree on this point. I would like to point out, upon rereading, that it says "a moon" not "the moon" - likely a reference to the fact that Mars has two moons.
Disagree it is for sure the naming. Randall has an asteroid 4942 Munroe named after him... So he knows what that means, and also used it in 1276: Angular Size. --Kynde (talk) 11:37, 19 September 2019 (UTC)
Could also be a more general figurative expression. Offers to give somebody the moon and/or stars are not uncommon (e.g. in songs, love poems, etc.) as a way of expressing desire to please them. 01:58, 20 September 2019 (UTC)
I don't know, is there some idiom or slang expression 'give sb a moon' with some obscure meaning? I'm not a native speaker of English. Maybe a variant of 'mooning' (showing one's buttocks to sb)? -- 08:46, 20 September 2019 (UTC)
You have a good grasp of idiom. As an example if you are negotiating a deal and the other side is asking too much (another idiom "asking for the moon") you might break off negotiations saying "You want the moon, I'll give you the moon!" and figuratively or literally show him your buttocks. This would be considered rude or illegal in almost all contexts, so not an idiom you want to use. I don't believe this is the main meaning in the comic, but it is an alternate interpretation and that is probably deliberate. 16:35, 20 September 2019 (UTC)

I felt the standing Cueball more apologetic or confused and thus part of the KSP team. Probably partly because all the others have hair and talk. 23:53, 18 September 2019 (UTC)

I don't think so, but I can see your point at to how you could think this. --Kynde (talk) 11:36, 19 September 2019 (UTC

So we’re getting a YouTube play through of KSP2 from Randall, right lol? (talk) (please sign your comments with ~~~~)

Maybe but I'm expecting more storyboards. 20:44, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

"... (Ksp for short) is a space flight simulation video game with a Keplerian orbital physics engine, allowing for semi-realistic orbital maneuvers" FTFY 15:53, 19 September 2019 (UTC)

Can I just say that I honestly don't think Randall would make a reference to Despicable me??? especially to try and make some obscure reference in an already kind of confusing comic? just me? Idk i would consider removing it - Grant 18:06 19 september 2019 (mt)