Rocket Science for Everyone!
Capturing the real-world thrill and challenges of planetary exploration, XTRONAUT™: The Game of Solar System Exploration gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions and explore the solar system. The game is based on real planetary missions and rocket science. It also contains elements of politics and strategy that are inspired by the real-life situations that space missions face.
Kickstarter Funding Plan
When our Kickstarter campaign is funded we will begin production of the final product. Our first use of this funding is to perfect the game design through a final round of play testing. We look forward to hearing the input from our backers at the Planetary Level. We are also going to improve the graphic art. As a preview of the new look of XTRONAUT™ we have created a mission patch - inspired by those of classic space missions.
We worked with AdMagic on the prototype components and plan to continue that relationship for producing the final game. In addition to providing copies of the game for our backers, we will also provide copies for use in several education and outreach programs in cities around the United States. We already plan to deliver copies of the game to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Metropolitan Phoenix for use in their science clubs. This delivery is made possible by a grant from Cox Communications in Arizona. Our goal is to also make these games available to schools and after-school programs around the world, to excite students and citizen scientists everywhere about space exploration.
Do you have what it takes to put together a space mission and race through the solar system? Identify your mission target and put together the right combination of rocket parts and spacecraft to achieve mission success. Watch out for other players as they confound your attempts to launch your mission by forcing you to wait out a government shutdown, swipe your hardware due to higher national priority, or cancel your mission for their own benefit. Don’t worry – you will recover by receiving surplus funds, using extra parts, or even forging a mutually beneficial collaboration with another player.
How do you complete your space mission?
Each player selects a Mission Card from the deck. This card determines the player's mission – the mission destination, type of spacecraft needed, the amount of Delta-V needed to achieve the mission, the potential to obtain gravity assists, and the points earned for completing the mission. Delta-V stands for change in velocity, and as applied to space missions and this game, it means the change in velocity necessary for a spacecraft to complete a selected mission.
How do you get Delta-V?
Delta-V comes from rocket engines and solid rocket boosters, as well as by flying past certain planets and obtaining a boost, known as a Gravity Assist. After selecting your Mission Card, each player receives five Playing Cards. The Playing Cards provide various components needed to complete a mission, such as spacecraft, rocket stages, fairings (the nose of a rocket that contains the spacecraft during launch), gravity assists, and Action Cards. Each player needs to collect the Playing Cards that give them the right spacecraft, first and second stage rockets, and matching fairings. Gravity assist and solid rocket booster cards are available to provide additional Delta-V if needed to complete the assigned mission.
Game play is straightforward. On their turn each player draws a playing card, plays an Action Card, and places a component on their game board. The Action Cards add real-life issues to the game that space missions often encounter - project cancellations, audits, government shutdowns, and other exciting twists and turns.
To complete a mission you must populate your game board with the right combination of cards for mission success. Each player needs to collect the Playing Cards that give them the right spacecraft, first and second stage rockets, and matching fairings. Gravity assist and solid rocket booster cards are available to provide additional Delta-V if needed to complete the assigned mission.
Once the mission is complete, the player earns the points for the mission, which varies based on the size of the spacecraft and the target, and starts work on their next mission. The first player to score 100 points wins.
Each XTRONAUT™ game includes the following components:
- Deck of 90 playing cards
- - 20 Atlas 5 Launch Vehicle cards
- - 20 Delta 4 Launch Vehicle cards
- - 8 Gravity Assist cards
- - 12 Spacecraft cards
- - 30 Action cards
- Deck of 24 mission cards
- 4 individual game boards
Please note that as part of the Kickstarter we will be taking the game through final review and enhancements, so some of the features outlined above might be modified – but the basic game will stay the same.
Backer Bonuses and Stretch Goals
If this project succeeds, we will make a fun and educational game. To say thanks, backers at the Planetesimal level and higher will also receive a copy of the Pluto Promo Pack! This promo pack adds new missions to Pluto and its satellites and features the latest imagery from the NASA New Horizons mission!
In addition to this promo pack, we have some additional expansion sets that we'll be able to include free of charge to every backer at the Planetesimal level and higher if we exceed our funding goal:
- $15,000 – Funded! All backers at the Planetesimal level and higher receive the core game plus the Pluto Promo Mission Card Set!
- $25,000 – Next Generation Rocket Expansion unlocked – new rockets with new capabilities! All backers at the Planetesimal level and higher receive 20 new launch vehicle cards.
- $35,000 – Custom Mission Game Boards unlocked – each player’s game board will feature distinctive space art – highlighting a different rocket launch complex from around the globe!
- $50,000 – All backers at the Planetesimal level and higher receive the Launch Window Expansion – players must time their launch to coincide with planetary launch windows – or face a penalty! Includes a launch window tracking board and 30 additional Action Cards.
- $75,000 – If unlocked, all backers at the Planetesimal level and higher receive the Fifth and Sixth Player Expansion! – Two additional game boards, each with their own graphic art plus additional 15 Action Cards and 12 new Missions to achieve.
Major partners in space exploration back this effort including the United Launch Alliance, The Planetary Society, and the asteroid miners at Planetary Resources.
“Our team had a lot of fun playing this game, as it reflected some of the real life scenarios many of us have experienced in our careers in the space industry. We are excited to see its release so Citizen Science can learn what it’s like to build a real space exploration mission.”
Chris Lewicki - President and Chief Engineer - Planetary Resources Inc.
“The game offers a real simulation, not just in design terms, but in project management challenges,”
Matt Smith - Vice President of Engineering and STEM education leader - United Launch Alliance. Quoted in the Arizona Daily Star, October 3, 2015.
“This game is a lot fun to play, provides a great overall representation of the physics and politics of space exploration, educates the player about solar system destinations, and requires solid use of strategy. I tested an early version with my graduate students in an Interplanetary Navigation and Guidance course that I teach; they loved it and I almost decided to make further play testing a homework assignment!”
Brent W. Barbee - Aerospace Engineer - University of Maryland
"This game has a fascinating concept, making the players learn more about space missions, such as what parts are needed, how big the crafts are, the value of each spacecraft, etc. The players learn more about different kinds of ships, and get a better idea about future careers in aerospace engineering and other space related STEM fields."
Play Testing Review - High School Students at the STEM School and Academy - Highlands Ranch, CO
About Xtronaut Enterprises
In May of 2011, NASA selected the Asteroid Sample Return Mission, OSIRIS-REx – a $1 billion mission to send a robotic spacecraft to an asteroid named "Bennu", collect a sample of the asteroid, and return the sample to Earth. Unfortunately, the education outreach budget for OSIRIS-REx was eliminated in 2013. In response, mission leader Dante Lauretta and space entreprenuer Michael Lyon founded Xtronaut Enterprises to develop innovative activities associated with space exploration – including the XTRONAUT™ game. The term Xtronaut celebrates the people that design spacecraft and rockets, operate the vehicles, participate in the science, or simply appreciate the beauty of the universe revealed by the space probes.
Risks and challenges
As with any project that involves the production and manufacture of tangible product to be delivered, there is a real chance for production delays and other factors presenting challenges along the way. Many board game projects on Kickstarter have been seriously hampered by art production delays, problems with an overseas factory, missing units, and shipping mistakes.
Fortunately, the designers of this game are used to managing large projects. Just like in building a spacecraft, we developed plans to handle a wide range of contingencies. We won’t miss the launch window for OSIRIS-REx and we won’t fail to deliver this fun and challenging game to our backers.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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