June 29, 2012
Build And Launch A Virtual Rocket With Innovative NASA App
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Have you ever wanted to build a rocket and launch it just like they do at NASA? Well now you can do just that with the innovative Rocket Science 101 game developed by the Kennedy Space Center Information Technology (KSC IT) Mobile Team with assistance from NASA´s Launch Services Program (LSP).
The unique and entertaining game, designed for use both on the home computer and on Apple´s iPad, allows users of all ages to select their favorite NASA mission, build a rocket based on the selected mission, and then use the rocket to send a spacecraft into orbit -- and the best part is you don´t have to be a rocket scientist to do this.
As well as the entertaining aspect of Rocket Science 101, the game provides users with a way to learn all about NASA´s thrilling missions and the various components of the rockets used in those missions, as well as how they are configured and how they work together to provide a successful launch. Game players will have a unique opportunity to follow in the footsteps of engineers at LSP, who do the same things for real missions at NASA every single day.
So how did the KIT Mobile Team and LSP come up with the idea to bring real-life missions to the virtual playground?
For that, we turn to Jessica Scheffman, a Strategic Planner at NASA´s Launch Service Program.
“We had an older game that was previously done by these same teams but only focused on building a rocket and had been thinking about more ways to teach people, in a fun way, what the Launch Services Program does,” Scheffman told redOrbit.com
“With the advancement in mobile technology we thought an app would be the perfect way.” She noted that the idea for a game “has been floating around for a few years,” but the team needed just the right medium to portray the game best.
“Working with LSP, we set out to revamp and enhance the legacy website to include new functionality and features such as upgraded visuals, innovative delivery mechanisms and improved gaming quality,” Diana K. Oglesby (KSC IT Mobile Team), told redOrbit.com
“With a target user population ranging in age from preschool to adult along with heightened focus on the educational outreach aspects, new and innovative ideas were included into the application such as the concept of multiple skill levels for diverse users, visual dials for assistance in matching rocket capabilities with mission requirements and audio feedback for user selections and successes,” added Oglesby.
Scheffman noted that due to NASA´s involvement in STEM education, it “would be fun to involve the whole aspect of what Launch Services Program does to teach the younger and even older generations what we do to get people excited about NASA.”
“Who wouldn´t like to build and launch a rocket? And this way, its not just a fun game, you are learning about the whole process of what it takes to pick the right rocket to get a NASA mission into space,” she said.
The developers said they plan to add more rockets to the game in the future, as well as the possible addition of fun features that incorporate the social media aspect into the game.
“NASA is always looking at fun ways to promote space, so although I can´t speak for the entire Agency, I´m most certain there will be more to come just like this for more missions and Programs that NASA has,” noted Scheffman.
“I am very enthusiastic about this project and proud of the work produced by the team!” Oglesby told redOrbit.com “This was an extraordinary effort, and there is much excitement about the impact of Rocket Science 101 and mobile technologies for this Agency. I am very thrilled for the immense outreach prospective this new technology presents for NASA and LSP.”
“Our team specializes in the design and development of secure mobile business applications as well as public-facing outreach applications and promoting best practices for the KSC community and NASA at large,” said Oglesby.
Download Rocket Science 101 app for iPad here.
Play the game on your computer here.