Children using Microsoft-owned game-based learning platform Minecraft can now build and launch a rocket to the Moon like the real Microsoft Artemis team, the US space agency has said.
Minecraft Artemis Missions was developed to engage students ages 8 and up in NASA’s next chapter in human spaceflight and encourage them to see themselves as future astronauts or scientists.
“Just like the real NASA Artemis team working to return humans to the Moon, gamers in these new Minecraft worlds can build and launch a rocket, guide their Orion spacecraft,” NASA said in a statement.
The children can “even establish a lunar base alongside their team”, it added.
The collaboration between NASA and Minecraft is part of an existing partnership between NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement and Microsoft.
“NASA strives to reach the broadest audience and inspire the Artemis Generation to prepare them for the missions of tomorrow,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson, in the statement.
Minecraft has built two new immersive worlds based on the real-world Artemis missions to come, in which astronaut crews, including the first woman and first person of colour, will establish a long-term human presence on the Moon.
Students will learn basic rocket engineering and mechanics as they build and launch their rocket in Minecraft’s “Artemis: Rocket Build” mission.
In the next mission, “Return to the Moon,” they’ll test their coding skills as they programme the Orion spacecraft to successfully land on the Moon.
“Artemis: Rocket Build” is available for free on both the Minecraft Marketplace and in Minecraft Education, while “Artemis: Return to the Moon” and “Artemis: Moon Base” are exclusive to Minecraft Education.
Minecraft Artemis Missions are positioned to reach the Artemis Generation of students just as NASA’s Artemis era begins.
The Artemis I mission in late 2022 marked the first integrated flight test of the agency’s mega Moon rocket, the Space Launch System, and the uncrewed Orion spacecraft.
During the three-week flight, Orion demonstrated its capabilities in deep space and performed two lunar fly-bys, setting the stage for increasingly complex and ambitious missions with astronauts.