Space has long fascinated us here at Stardock.
We built our name up on space strategy games with Galactic Civilizations and have continued to do so over the years with games like Ashes of the Singularity: Escalation and Offworld Trading Company. In many ways, space is at the core of what we do.
Screenshot from Galactic Civilizations IV
Whenever space related news comes across my feed, I find myself immediately drawn to reading about it. While missions to Mars will always be exciting and interesting, it’s particularly exciting when I come across plans for expeditions to planets that are far less explored - like Venus, for example.
A private company called Rocket Lab seeks to answer the ever-burning question of “Are we alone?” by launching the first ever private mission to Venus. The California-based company hopes to reach Venus and explore its clouds for signs of potential habitability in this self-funded research journey. They revealed new details about their plans in a paper recently published by the journal Aerospace.
Rocket Lab is building a small probe that will fly through the planet’s upper atmosphere between 29 and 37 miles above the surface. The duration of the flight will last approximately five minutes. The company is hoping to launch the spacecraft in May of next year, with the probe reaching Venus in October of the same year. The backup launch window moves the mission to January of 2025.
The probe will be delivered to Venus via the company’s trusty Electron rocket, which is the “only reusable orbital-class small rocket” currently in existence, according to them. Electron will send the probe into orbit 100 miles above Earth, then use its high-energy upper stage Photon to perform a series of burns to raise the probe’s orbit to where it can escape from Earth’s gravitational pull.
Concept image of the Venus Probe
Rocket Lab is known for its crazy feats; they pulled off a daring stunt in May when they used a helicopter to catch a falling rocket in mid-air. Sending a probe to Venus, though? That’s a step beyond that. Venus has not, historically, been particularly welcoming of spacecraft because of its extremely hot atmosphere and air pressure that’s 90 times greater than Earth’s.
Still, the success of this mission could mean an entirely new era of space exploration. It’s the sort of thing that we dream about here when we create new civilizations and situations for our games: the big, looming question of “What if?” this was possible, and then what would it look like if it were.
These thoughts about space and what might be out there are what drive new ideas and creative encounters within our games, and, most certainly, other similar space themed games, strategy or otherwise. What excites you about space exploration in a game? Please share with us!