NASA is aiming to launch its own subscription-based massively multi-player online (MMO) game by 2010. Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond is aimed to be a learning tool for students, as well as a chance for thousands of geeks to tinker with rockets virtually.

“We want to create a fun, compelling gaming experience that will give players the chance to learn about science and engineering careers while they play the game,” Daniel Laughlin, project manager, NASA Learning Technologies, told Yahoo! Games. “NASA is committed to attracting more students to science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields of study and careers. We hope this game will inspire players.”

NASA’s MMO project has been rumbling (like its 360-spinning car) around for a while now. But the greenlight has now been given for three companies to collaborate to bring it into full production using current and past NASA scientific and engineering expertise.

“Players will pick a profession like a roboticist, space geologist, astrobiologist or mechanical engineer and work as a team to establish outposts and travel to the farthest reaches of the solar system,” said Jerry Heneghan, CEO, Virtual Heroes. “The game will offer individual challenges and team-based objectives using real-life science, math and engineering to unlock new in-game vehicles, spacesuits, robotics and mining apparatus.”

NASA gets control not only of storylines and mission plots, but also to keep tabs on any interesting solutions that gamers come up with to problems. And as the game is built on the Unreal Engine 3, then its makers expect Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond to soon see lots of user-generated content for it. A demo is expected in 2009.

Out 2010 | £TBA | Astronaut: Moon, Mars & Beyond

  • Ben Sillis

    Sounds great – I can imagine people will be dying to make Star Wars stuff for it.

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