A couple of years ago I bought KSP and struggled to even get through the tutorial getting the "basics".

I didn't get anywhere, got frustrated and just stopped playing the game. However this morning I felt like I should give the game another chance.

Now it's currently 5pm and after about 10 hours of playing I still didn't even get successfully through 1 of the tutorials and I'm just getting as frustrated as before.

So my question is: Is there any preknowledge expected for this game, or is there anything I can get a tutorial about how to play successfully the tutorial?

currently I'm just faced failing all some minutes in the same situation with not explained instructions I dont know how to execute and without any help from the internet.

Is it just me who has this trouble or am I simply missing some other people's help?

  • 14
    Ah, I thought you meant rocket science as in the in-game technology, and I was like, "It's gonna be hard to land on Duna with just the weakest SRBs".
    – DeadMG
    Aug 23, 2015 at 15:17
  • I have no clou... Its more like I spent now (counted by steam) like 12 hours playing the game at all, and haven't had any success.... But I guessit is really just me...
    – Zaibis
    Aug 23, 2015 at 15:19
  • A warning, if you continue with the tutorials: "To the Mun, Part 2" is broken in the current version of KSP ( You're supposed to land on Kerbin, but the parachute is configured to open too late, and you'll crash. You'll need to change the parachute altitude from 500m to 1000m by right-clicking the parachute on the top of your actual rocket (not the parachute icon in the staging panel), which you can do before flight. You don't need to do this in the main game; parachutes are set to open at 1000m by default. Aug 24, 2015 at 2:55
  • 3
    I haven't played in a while, but what helped me the most were a few video tutorials by Scott Manley. Aug 24, 2015 at 7:47
  • 7
    You don't need to be a rocket scientist to start playing KSP, but you will likely become one when you play it enough. In my opinon the point of the game is to teach yourself rocket science just like the space pioneers in the 50s and 60s. Reading real-world material about space exploration is surprisingly helpful. I fully understand that this kind of game experience is not for everyone.
    – Philipp
    Aug 24, 2015 at 11:05

4 Answers 4


You don't need to have previously studied rocket science to play Kerbal Space Program.

I've had a brief look at the tutorial and it covers stuff that you don't really need to know to get started, like radial decouplers. You can practically get into orbit by just using the starting pod, chucking a parachute on top, sticking some fuel tanks in the middle, and a rocket on the bottom (getting out of orbit again needs a little more ;p). And you start with SRBs (solid rocket boosters) so you won't even really need that, just chuck a bunch of SRBs on the bottom.

The second tutorial starts off with introducing the controls in the bottom left, which I think that I have literally never ever used. RCS which you won't need until you're trying to dock ships in orbit. The ship holder thingies that are only useful for the biggest, heaviest rockets. Then there's a bunch about asteroid redirects, which are pretty late-game stuff.

Actually playing KSP is a lot easier than the tutorial makes it seem. All of those things (well most of them) are useful, but you are introduced to them a lot more gradually.

However, you will need the ability to discover and grasp new concepts for yourself. For example, orbital mechanics- the first time I tried to fly to the Mun, I literally just tried to go straight up. You need to have somewhere you can ask questions when you get stuck, but the answers are usually quite simple. You won't succeed at Kerbal Space Program without outside help from time to time.

I also forgot to mention MechJeb, which is fucking awesome and IMO the game is unplayable without. But that's in the somewhat longer term.

  • 5
    So your advice is screw on the tutorial and jsut start a game?
    – Zaibis
    Aug 23, 2015 at 15:50
  • 10
    Yep. You can start with only the stuff you actually need.
    – DeadMG
    Aug 23, 2015 at 16:01
  • I was barely able to get a rocket in orbit, and one thing that jumpstarted my progress was learning about maneuver points (been a while, don't remember the exact name). Then landing and orbiting got much simpler
    – Kroltan
    Aug 23, 2015 at 23:12
  • IIRC one of the in-game tutorials demonstrates orbital mechanics and the map view.
    – user253751
    Aug 24, 2015 at 2:01
  • 4
    While this is totally subjective, I would recommend checking out Scott Manley on YouTube. I learnt most of the basics from watching his beginner's guides and tutorials.
    – Svj0hn
    Aug 24, 2015 at 10:30

As other answers have noted, the built-in tutorials in Kerbal Space Program are not something you need to complete before starting the actual game. It's much easier to just dive right in and start playing, learning as you go.

The three game modes in KSP each have their advantages for beginners:

  • In Sandbox mode, you have access to everything from the start, and don't have to worry about money or science or reputation or anything else but building big rockets and seeing if they explode or not. ;-) The main drawback of Sandbox mode is that the sheer number of parts and features available may be overwhelming. Pick this mode if you just like to stick a bunch of crazy stuff together and see if it'll fly. :-)

  • Science mode is kind of a compromise between Sandbox and Career modes: you still don't need to worry about money or reputation, but you only start with a few simple rocket parts, and have to work your way up the tech tree to acquire more options. I'd suggest this as the most beginner friendly mode in general, although the other modes have their advantages too.

  • Finally, in Career mode, you've got a limited amount of funds to play with, and have to worry about things like blowing up too many pilots and ruining your reputation. The nice thing about Career mode for beginners is that you get contracts, which give you specific goals to meet and can sort of act as an in-game quasi-tutorial. If that's something you think you'd like, or if you just feel the Sandbox and Science modes feel too aimless, go ahead and start a Career mode game. You can always adjust the difficulty, or just restart the game if your first space program crashes and burns.

Also, there are several third-party tutorials for KSP that you might find useful. Since it was requested in the comments that these should be mentioned in an answer, here's a brief, non-exhaustive list:

Note that, due to the rapid development of KSP, some older tutorials may be somewhat out of date. In particular, what's now called Science mode used to be called Career mode, before the new Career mode was introduced in KSP v0.24, so the naming of some older tutorials may be a bit confusing from a modern perspective.

Also, I've made this a Community Wiki answer so that it's easier to edit; feel free to improve and update the third-party tutorials list above.

  • 5
    I can't recommend Scott Manley's tutorials enough. Aug 24, 2015 at 14:44
  • 3
    The main drawback of Sandbox mode is that the sheer number of parts and features available may be overwhelming. this was the problem I had when I picked it up in EA and career mode wasn't really a thing yet. Just too many pieces to worry about at once.
    – Wjousts
    Aug 24, 2015 at 17:09
  • 1
    I second the "Science Mode" suggestion for the first playthrough. A friend of mine was overly ambitious and started with Career mode. He got stuck with his "rendezvous in orbit" contract and failed the docking tutorial several times - it is a bit picky, I have to admit. Science mode on the other hand let's you advance using your own pace and doesn't punish failures. You can always enjoy some fancy explosions instead of worrying about the lost funds and additional contract penalty.
    – mbx
    Aug 25, 2015 at 19:33

The first versions of KSP were hard, because there was no help at all. Figuring out trajectories indeed was a major pain, and I can imagine why you bailed out.

The current version is much more accessible, in sandbox mode. That's because you get all the components. Some of them are rather critical to get to other planets and are entirely, totally overkill just to get in orbit. In career mode, however, you'll only get a few components to start with. That's hard in a different way: there's only so much you can do, and it will be quite a while before you can get to Mun.

So, if you get frustrated, ignore the tutorial and grab some big, BIG rocket components. Use a big orange Jumobo tank, a big Mainsail engine, a sturdy Mk1-2 command pod, a decoupler between tank and engine, and an XL parachute. I don't think you need fins.

There are two core fundamentals in space flight: the most efficient acceleration is forward and backwards, which are the lime indicators on the navball. Secondly, your orbit has a high point (apoapsis) and low point(periapsis). To increase the height of one, accelerate in the opposite point.

Finally, the quick tip to get to the Mun is to get in a low circular orbit, starting eastward from the base, and wait for the Mun to rise above the horizon. Then accelerate until your apoapsis touches Mun orbit.

Personally, I use MechJeb. This is a smart calculator which gives many important figures. For instance, it can show orbital information. So that Munshot becomes a lot easier: you can see the predicted apoapsis and you just accelerate until it hits 11400 km. (Don't try to be too precise, you'll just hit the Mun if you go for 11400 km exactly.)

  • 6
    The limited amount of components you start with in career is an advatange, IMO - no need to scroll through hundreds of components you have no idea about; all you need is right there - just the 10 components or so.
    – Luaan
    Aug 24, 2015 at 7:34
  • @Luaan How can you enjoy the explosions? How can you embrace failure? How can you do it the Kerbal Way when constantly thinking about money?
    – mbx
    Aug 25, 2015 at 19:36
  • 1
    @mbx True, For Science!!! mode is much better :))
    – Luaan
    Aug 25, 2015 at 20:44

The other answers, especially "Community Wiki" answer above with the lists of tutorials is great.

My recommendation is (like others) to skip the tutorials and do your first play-through in science mode. I'd set your first goal to be making orbit.

One other thing to add: I've seen a lot of posts above recommending MechJeb (MJ). Instead, I'd recommend Kerbal Engineer (KER). It give the same data, and doesn't do anything more. From what I understand, MJ gives the data, and then has a bunch of autopilot features, which can be confusing if you don't understand what they're doing.

Watch some tutorials, and if you're having trouble making orbit after several attempts, come on back and we'll try to help step by step as best we can.

Best of luck and clear skies.

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