In this strategy card game, you'll work individually or collaboratively to build a spacecraft that can explore destinations throughout our solar system. The object is to fully explore your destination while withstanding the challenges thrown your way.

The activity materials laid out on a wooden floor.


Collage of three images showing a artist concept of the Artemis gateway spacecraft, a selfie taken by the Perseverance rover on Mars, and an artists concept of the Europa Clipper mission orbiting Europa with Jupiter in the distance.

1. Get to know the missions

In this game, you’ll lead a mission to explore some of the most interesting environments in our solar system including the Moon, Mars, and Jupiter's moon Europa. Before getting started, read on to learn about some of the current and future NASA missions exploring the same destinations you will soon encounter with your fleet of spacecraft.

  • NASA’s Artemis program calls for sending the first woman and next man to the surface of the Moon by 2024. It also seeks to establish a permanent and sustainable presence on the Moon. The agency will use what we learn on the Moon to prepare for humanity's next giant leap – sending astronauts to Mars.
  • On Mars, Perseverance, NASA's most advanced Mars rover to date, is taking the next steps in our exploration of the Red Planet. Only the fifth NASA rover to land on Mars, Perseverance is building on the work and scientific discoveries of its predecessors by searching for evidence of ancient microbial life on the Red Planet.
  • In the near future, NASA plans to take its search for life even farther into the solar system to Jupiter's ocean moon Europa. This small moon contains more water beneath its icy shell than all of Earth's oceans combined. NASA's Europa Clipper mission, currently in development, is designed to orbit Europa, make up-close observations, and investigate whether the icy moon has conditions suitable for life.

About the image: From left to right: An artistic depiction of the Artemis program's Gateway space station; a selfie taken by the Perseverance rover on Mars; and an artistic depiction of the Europa Clipper spacecraft orbiting Jupiter's moon Europa. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand image

Overhead view of the cards being cut out.

2. Print and cut out the game materials

Print out the following on 8.5x11 paper or card stock:

Cut out the game cards.

If you're using the game mat, assemble it by taping together the pieces, as shown below. The mat includes a place for the deck, discard pile, and spacecraft.

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3. Get familiar with the gameplay

This game is very similar in structure to strategy card games you may already be familiar with. Whether the architecture looks familiar or not, it may help to watch this tutorial video before getting started.

Learn to play NASA Space Voyagers, a strategy card game in which students design a robotic space mission to explore the Moon, Mars, and beyond. | Watch on YouTube

4. Go alone or play with a friend

You can play by yourself or with up to three other players, collaboratively. If you play alone, some of the more challenging destinations may prove difficult. Playing on a team will allow you to pool your resources toward your common goal.

The destination cards for the Moon and Mars are held up over the game mat.

5. Pick a destination to explore

The destination cards, such as the Moon or Mars, have an exploration value, or a number of points you will need to earn to complete your mission and win the game. Each round, you will roll the dice to determine which of the challenges on the destination card you must overcome.

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A person fans out the full deck of cards.

6. Modify your deck and draw your cards

Before you shuffle the rest of the cards, you may want to modify the deck to ensure that all cards are helpful to the environment you’re setting out to explore. A submersible won’t provide much help on the Moon, for example. Feel free to personalize your deck to ensure success.

Now, each player draws seven cards from the shuffled deck. Note: You can choose to replace up to two of your drawn cards.

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7. Start your mission!

Each turn, you can take a number of actions to start building your mission, buying spacecraft and instruments and deploying them to start exploring your destination, including:

  • Put down a resources card to go toward the purchase of a spacecraft or instrument. Resources are either funding or research. Each turn, you can only play one resource card, so you will need to accumulate them over multiple turns to purchase spacecraft and instruments.
  • Purchase a spacecraft and put it into play to start accumulating research points at your destination. You must have the resources identified to purchase spacecraft and instruments and put them into play. Once spacecraft are put into play, they can begin accumulating research points at the destination. The research value of the spacecraft (amount of exploration it can do per turn) and the durability (how much damage it can withstand) are provided in the bottom right of the card, given the value X/Y, respectively.
  • Moon symbol
    Funding – This money symbol associated with funding is used on spacecraft and instruments cards to indicate how many funding cards are required to purchase that card or special ability.

    Moon symbol
    Research – This beaker symbol associated with research is used on spacecraft and instruments cards to indicate how many research cards are required to purchase that card or special ability.

  • Purchase an instrument. You must have the resources identified in the top-right of the card to purchase an instrument. Instruments can be purchased at any time, but they must be added to a spacecraft to accumulate research points.
  • Add an instrument to a spacecraft. Instruments can only be added to spacecraft according to the rules on the spacecraft card. Once instruments are added to a spacecraft, their research value can go toward the destination total.

Be sure to tap all used resources, spacecraft, and instruments at the end of your turn. These cards cannot be used again until the next round.

Moon symbol
Tap – This arrow symbol indicates that the card must be tapped (turned sideways) after the resource, spacecraft, or special ability has been used. Cards are automatically untapped at the start of the next round and can be used again.

At the end of your turn, draw one new card from the deck.

Side-by-side images showing a person tallying the score and placing markers on their spacecraft to denote damages.

8. End the round and get a new challenge

Once all players have had a turn, it's time to end the round:

  • Tally up the research value of any spacecraft and instruments used (tapped) in the round and subtract their research value from the destination's total.
  • Now, the destination also gets a turn, and may cause damage to your spacecraft. Roll the dice to see what impacts there are to your spacecraft. Tally the damages by placing sticky notes, pennies, or other markers on applicable cards and removing those that reach zero durability. And subtract the value of any damages from each applicable spacecrafts’ durability. Note that:

    • Damages are permanent and cumulative as turns continue throughout the game.
    • Spacecraft that reach zero durability have failed and are removed from play.
    • Some spacecraft and instruments have special abilities that allow them to withstand damages, so be sure to read the cards carefully.
  • When you're ready to start a new round, untap any resources or spacecraft you used the previous round.
A person holds seven cards over the Space Voyagers game mat.

9. Complete your mission

To win the game, you must fully explore your destination (subtract the total research value) before running out of cards. Remember, playing with others will prove beneficial as your destinations get more advanced.

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10. Check back for new missions and planets to explore!

Our solar system is full of exciting mysteries to uncover, and NASA is building new and more complex spacecraft all the time. Check back often to see when new expansion sets are released.