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Nasa returns to the moon... in 3D game

Grand Theft Astro, anyone?

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President Obama may have knocked on the head Nasa's plan to put real people back on the moon, but the space agency is still going ahead with a scheme to get you there virtually.

Next month will see the release of Moonbase Alpha, not some piece of retro sci-fi telly action but a 3D game [surely 'serious simulation' - Ed] that puts players in "realistic Nasa exploration scenarios".

Nasa Moonbase Alpha

In space, no one can hear you re-callibrate the Waste Collection and Recycling System

Just in case standing around on the lunar surface taking spectrograph readings doesn't float your gaming boat, Nasa and developer Virtual Heroes have chucked in a bit of 'Houston, we have a problem'-style incentive: players must restore critical systems and oxygen flow after a nearby meteor strike cripples a solar array and life support equipment.

You can play on your own, or play co-operatively with others. Time-wasters and space-alien hunters need not apply.

Nasa says the game is a "proof of concept to show how Nasa content could be combined with a cutting-edge game engine to produce an experience that inspires interest in science, technology, engineering and maths - skills critical to achieving NASA's exploration goals".

Nasa Moonbase Alpha

Run away: you too can experience escaping danger in one-sixth G

Moonbase Alpha is released on 6 July through Valve's Steam system. There's a trailer, complete with inappropriately dramatic music - for something designed to inspire the young to boffinry, at least - here. ®

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