December 1, 2023


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The video game Starfield convinces NASA of its believable science fiction technology

The video game Starfield convinces NASA of its believable science fiction technology

Rolling play starfield from ancient scrolls– Studio Bethesda allows players to explore dozens of star systems containing 1,000 planets. For ship design and technology, the creators drew inspiration from NASA, SpaceX and their partners. Some of the technology even has real role models. This makes the video game look friendly and realistic.

Written by Michael Furch

Earth’s resources are limited, and climate change threatens to make large parts of our planet uninhabitable. Plus, there’s always the risk that a plague, crazy AI, or a meteor crash could wipe us all out in no time. That would be ugly. In light of this, it seems logical, almost inevitable, that humanity will venture into space in the coming decades and centuries to make its home. Because even in the event of a global catastrophe, somehow and somewhere, only a handful of people can survive and carry on the legacy of our civilization. At least that’s what people like Elon Musk think. “Humankind must become a multi-planetary being,” says the controversial billionaire. But otherwise: the great unknown draws there – and with it the hope of new, wonderful, unexplored worlds. And limitless adventures for those who dare.

That is exactly what it is about starfieldthe long-awaited role-playing game finally released ancient scrolls– Developer Bethesda. So this time it doesn’t take players back to a fantasy world full of dragons and gnomes or to a post-apocalyptic wasteland with robots and mutants. But space. But not space as you can see star Wars or Star Trek Known. Instead it specifies starfield In the relatively near future, for which our current technological situation has been developed further – with some freedom, of course. Therefore, in the year 2330, it will not be the infinite spaces that will be explored, but rather the cosmic backyard that extends about 50 light-years. It contains real star systems such as Alpha Centrauri and fictional systems such as Narion, which provides about 1,000 planets and moons to land on.

The massive area is not explored with sparkling clean ships like the USS Enterprise or giant star cruisers, but with ships that are undeniably futuristic, but look believable and possible. You see huge metal giants with powerful thrusters and navigation planes, visible thrusters, shield generators, and a huge reactor in the back that powers everything. Inside there are functional consoles, tables and cabinets made of metal and hard plastic. Next to it are rows of panels with buttons and switches that can also be operated with one hand and in a spacesuit. It all looks not new, but worn, with paint peeling and visible dents and scratches. It is a deeply held vision of an interstellar future, rooted in our present and thus rarely seen.

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NASA punk?

Bethesda artist Istvan Pely, who is largely responsible for the game’s visuals, named it NASA Punk. Based on the Sci-Fi Cyberpunk, Solar, Diesel and Clockpunk genres. The role model for ship design was the functional, but also simple and elegant look of the US space agency and modern aerospace companies such as SpaceX and Boeing. It is an aesthetic already ingrained in the collective memory. Everyone knows what the space shuttle or the International Space Station looks like. Thousands upon thousands have watched Falcon 9 rocket launches or spacecraft test flights. the See and feel Hence it is associated with our awareness of working technology, optimism, the thought of the space race, and a sense of excitement.

But not only spaceships have a realistic appearance, but also spacesuits, outposts, and entire cities. It is clear that on many moons and planets there are habitats built using 3D printing technology, which are inhabited, for example, by independent alien settlers. Grooves in the outer walls reveal the method of construction. There are simple metal and glass boxes standing on the roofs. But also deep underground caverns made habitable by steel cladding and ventilation and filtering systems – like the Martian mining town of Sidonia. In the Foley System, Neon is a giant, twisted city that sits on huge pillars in the sea. In addition, there are sometimes small, sometimes large, sometimes giant space stations that are easily identifiable as distant relatives of Mir, the International Space Station, and humanity’s currently planned outposts in Earth’s orbit.

Also the core technology in starfield They are often futuristic – but at the same time tangible, and seem to be only a few decades away. “You can draw a line from current space technology and extrapolate from there into the future in a way that makes sense,” said Bailey, the Bethesda designer. Ships and space stations are powered by fusion reactors, for example, which are made by companies like Dogstar and Chiang. It is based on the Tokamak and Stellarator architectures. Which has been researched for decades with small but hopeful advances. On the other hand, jet technology, which propels adjustable and buildable ships through space, appears to be directly inspired by the Nerva program. In the 1950s, the United States Air Force, the United States Atomic Energy Commission, and then NASA first searched for a new type of propulsion system for potential rockets and spaceships under this name.

Spacecraft were – and still are – powered by toxic fuels such as kerosene, hydrazine, or expensive liquid oxygen. On the other hand, the developers at NERVA proposed running hydrogen through a nuclear reactor and heating it to 3,000 degrees Celsius, which would cause the hydrogen to turn into a gas, expand, and provide thrust. The idea and initial tests in the Nevada desert were promising. Soviet engineers were working on an almost identical concept and wanted to use it for a Mars mission in the 1990s. But after NASA’s budget was cut, Project Nerva was shelved, and the Soviet Union disintegrated before much progress could be made. Since then, the idea behind Nerva has been revived again and again. Currently, companies such as Ultra Safe Nuclear Technologies and BWXT are working on new interpretations of the concept of future space missions.

Per Aspera Ad Astra

A believable future evil NASA scenario starfield Looks refreshing. But it’s not really new. The drama series has been broadcasting on the Apple+ streaming service since 2019 for all mankind, showing an alternate history of the space race. Instead of the United States, the Soviet Union succeeded in landing the first man on the moon. An international embarrassment that the United States does not want to put up with. So the Apollo program and NASA’s budget are being expanded. Now that Neil Armstrong is the second person to set foot on the moon, a lunar base and space shuttles are being built that can fly to Earth’s satellite and back. Next target? Mars. In this race in 1994, NASA not only had to compete with the still-existing Soviet Union, but also with the private company Helios.

before for all mankind He has already drawn author and engineer Stephen Baxter in novels loosely associated with the NASA trilogy Ares mission, Titanium And Moon seed Multiple “what if” scenarios for the race to space and beyond. in Baxters Ares mission Kennedy survives the assassination attempt on Lee Harvey Oswald, and resigns as president, but uses his influence and reputation to widely promote the space program. As early as 1986, the first Americans landed on Mars in a spaceship. in Titanium A small team at the shrinking US space agency organizes a manned mission to Titan using a converted space shuttle to investigate signs of organic life. and in Moon seed The US space program does not end after Apollo 17, it continues – with consequences that force humanity into space.

In his NASA accounts, Baxter often draws on ideas and plans that NASA engineers had already proposed or even worked out in detail at the time, but were unable to implement—for lack of money or time or because the stakes were too high. In doing so, the reader looks through the eyes of those who must make the seemingly impossible possible: bring people alive into space and back—and do so using machines, chemical reactions, and physical processes that are as complex as they are dangerous. Detailed descriptions of the technology in the novels, its distinctive appearance rooted in real space technology, and its distinctive functional design in for all mankind Make them believable. It’s not magical or miraculous technology that got us here through space. It is the result of research and development over many decades.

All this also applies to starfield. Designing the world and the technology in it is not just an end in itself, it is the anchoring of the future landscape. It makes players more accepting of even the less realistic events and discoveries. In addition, the state and formation of art also lie within a history starfield understandable and logically justified. Because in the role-playing game, humanity did not voluntarily go into space. She had to leave in haste and without much time or planning to find new worlds to settle on and ensure the continued existence of the human race. And that with technology it was never designed for.

Starfield is coming to PC and Xbox Series X/S on September 6th. Premium version has been playable since September 1st.

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