There have been plenty of video games set in space, and a not-small portion of MMOs are set in space, too. But you’ve never played one where space exploration and travel are simulated with absolute realism, in the shoes of a NASA astronaut. Until now.

Now that NASA’s funding has been cut and the Space Shuttle program ended — with no replacement program planned for American space exploration — what’s a government science agency to do? Crowdsource, that’s what. The project was recently put on Kickstarter to raise the needed funds for a proper beta, and it warms my heart to say that to date, the project has received 132% of its minimum required funding. So it’s happening, baby.

Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond for iPad

Originally titled Moonbase Alpha, the MMO has been renamed Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond. Under development at studio Project Whitecard in special cooperation with NASA Learning Technology, the idea is to create a fun, exciting, creative game that’s themed around realistic space exploration and colonization. Set in the year 2035, the game starts when you’re taken to the Arthur C. Clarke Astronaut Academy Station, which Project Whitecard describes as “a sort of Hogwarts in space.”

That got your attention, didn’t it?

Once you graduate, you’ll be sent off on episodic, “fanciful” NASA missions in accurate depictions of the Moon, Mars, the asteroid belt, and more of our solar system. Game modes will include team vs. team and player vs. environment challenges. For the first time ever, there will be an authentic recreation of our solar system, using NASA resources, allowing players to have fun while learning more about science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Astronaut: Moon, Mars, and Beyond is being made for PC, iOS devices, and undisclosed home consoles, with a planned debut sometime in 2012.


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Robin Parrish

Unathletic, uncoordinated tall man with endless creativity stampeding through his overactive brain. Comes with beard, wife, and two miniature humans. Novelist. General blogger and main Gaming Geek for ForeverGeek. Lead Blogger, Apple Gazette.

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