US space agency NASA has released a free single-player management game on the Microsoft Store – but To The Moon and Beyond might not send your spirits out of this world.
Released for Xbox Series X|S and Xbox One, To the Moon and Beyond (opens in new tab) is a semi-educational management game that challenges you to develop your own expanding space program while trying to launch astronaut crews and establish a permanent base on the Moon. You will be choosing between research opportunities to pursue on the International Space Station and choosing between projects to invest in on Earth as you try to develop your space program at the lowest possible cost.
Using a card-based system, the game lets you choose from different research options and manage your budget, as well as respond to random events that threaten to reverse your space initiative. Between building rockets, rovers, and spacesuits, you’ll try to complete eight mission-critical objectives before time runs out.
It all looks very simple and certainly has none of the complexity of other space-themed games like Kerbal Space Program. It’s primarily a piece of educational entertainment, filled with links to online NASA articles so you can learn about contemporary aeronautical engineering. However, To the Moon and Beyond comes with a full batch of achievements, and completing all 11 will earn you 1,000 Gamerscore.
This isn’t the first time the game has been released, however. To the Moon and Beyond originally released for iOS and Android devices in 2020, though NASA said (opens in new tab) he anticipated bringing the game to Xbox down the line.
This isn’t the first time NASA has cooperated in developing a video game. The agency previously joined with developer Vision Videogames to create the 2005 space station manager SpaceStationSim. It lent the studio technical and personnel specifications to create an accurate 3D model of the International Space Station, and some NASA employees even offered as beta testers for the game.
Video games are no stranger to educational entertainment. The Financial Times released the weather game (opens in new tab) just earlier this year, challenging gamers to manage a country’s economy and diversify their industries away from fossil fuels to achieve a net-zero carbon economy by 2050. Video game interactivity is often seen as a valuable way to teach children and families about world issues and the consequences of difficult decisions.
If you like its mix of space strategy but want something a little harder than the familiar NASA game, check out Surviving Mars. Or, if meticulous industrial planning is more your thing, consider Factorio, which we consider to be one of the best PC strategy games out there.