NASA wants to bring humanity back to the Moon (or arrive for the first time, if you’re one of those nutcases). To do that, it needs the Artemis missions to continue succeeding. Artemis 1 – NASA’s most recent unmanned venture to the Moon – successfully concluded in 2022, with a follow-up pencilled in for a November 2024 launch.
In a bid to get the next generation of younglings (and… oldlings?) interested in space and more specifically, the Artemis missions, NASA and Minecraft Education are teaming up. The partnership between the two lets players (ages 8 and up) “build and launch a rocket, guide their Orion spacecraft, and even establish a lunar base alongside their team,” in a new set of Artemis missions.
We’re going to the Moon!
Design your own rocket and navigate the Orion space capsule on a mission to the moon! #MinecraftEdu
— Minecraft Education (@PlayCraftLearn) March 7, 2023
Players unaware of Minecraft Education have some catching up to do. The Education edition is a separate game from Minecraft, allowing for less (but also more) creativity to achieve a specific goal at hand. Here, that means building a rocket and landing it on the Moon (successfully).
A total of two ‘missions’ are available on Minecraft Education; Artemis: Rocket Build and Artemis: Return to the Moon. Both can be found in the content library of Minecraft Education for free – but first, you’ll need a license to play the Education edition. A free trial is available if you aren’t convinced. Artemis: Rocket Build can also be found in the marketplace of the base game.
Strangely, NASA mentions a third mission – Artemis: Moon Base, which it claims is only available through the Education edition. We’ve been unable to find any more news of this mission at the time of writing, with Microsoft exempting it from the official blog. Our guess? We’ll be seeing Artemis: Moon Base as a future update to the Artemis editions.
Artemis: Rocket Build
Unsurprisingly, this mission tackles one important task: building a rocket. Specifically, players are given tasks to help them better understand “rocket design, propulsion, and the demands of flying into space.” This is supposed to help students gain a deeper appreciation for space in general while developing “important skills like teamwork and communication.”
Artemis: Return to the Moon
Artemis: Return to the Moon is the more involved of the two. The end goal – as you’ve probably guessed – is to guide the Orion spacecraft to the Moon and perform a series of coding tasks while in the satellite’s orbit. Minecraft claims that no coding knowledge is required, as the aim is to learn the basics of coding. Python and MakeCode are the languages of choice here.
Teachers new to Minecraft Education that want to incorporate the missions into their classrooms can do so with Minecraft’s Artemis virtual workshops. You’ll need to register soon, as the program starts on 24 March and ends on 6 April.