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Xtronaut: The Game of Solar System Exploration was designed by Dante Lauretta, Asteroid Day 100x signer and Professor at the University of Arizona. He based the game design on his experience leading the development of the NASA OSIRIS-REx asteroid sample return mission, launching in September 2016. The game captures the challenges and fun of planning a space mission and combines real rocket science with mission planning, strategy, politics, and interactive play.

The game asks players – Do you have what it takes to put together a space mission and race through the solar system? To win the game you must identify your target and put together the right combination of rocket parts and spacecraft to achieve mission success. The game is highly interactive. You must 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.

To start the game 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 is the term spacecraft designers use to determine how much energy is needed from rocket engines and solid rocket boosters, as well as by flying past certain planets and obtaining a boost. The game includes many solar system destinations, including the famous asteroids Bennu, Vesta, and Ceres!

On each turn, players draw a playing card, play Action Cards, and place components 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. Players score points for completing a mission – the more complicated the mission, the higher the return. The first player to ten points wins the game.

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