Welcome back to the quest. I don't sound like I have a ton of energy in this episode (was fighting the plague), but I got to sit down and talk with Dante Lauretta, the creator of a new board game, Xtronaut, that is really taking off (pun intended). The audio gets a little cattywampus in a couple of spots, but it was a good time none the less!
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.
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.
Game play is straightforward. On their turn each player draws a playing card, plays up to three Action Cards, trades with other players, and places 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. 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 10 points wins.
Xtronaut on boardgamegeek.com:
Good Housekeeping Award Winning game that captures the real-world science, technology, and challenges of planetary exploration. XTRONAUT: The Game of Solar System Exploration is a board game that is easy to learn, and gives 2 – 4 players ages 7 and up the chance to develop space missions, build authentic rocket systems, and explore the solar system. Designed by Professor leading major NASA OSIRIS-REx space mission, the game is fun and engaging, but also exposes players to space science concepts related to planning and undertaking a real space mission -- complete with full color education workbook that explains game scientific concepts.
Dante Lauretta is a Professor of planetary science and cosmochemistry at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. He is currently serving as the Principal investigator on NASA's OSIRIS-REx mission.
He received a B.S. in physics and mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1993 and a Ph.D. in Earth and planetary sciences from Washington University in St. Louis in 1997. He was a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Geological Sciences at Arizona State University from 1997 through 1999. Dante was an Associate Research Scientist in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Arizona State University from 1999 through 2001. He was hired on to the faculty at the University of Arizona in 2001.