Ready to travel to Mars? You virtually can.

NASA has partnered with a media company to create a simulated mission to Mars, which will be available to virtual reality fans later this year.

Mario Anzuoni/Reuters
Guests use Samsung's Gear VR virtual reality headsets during a preview session in Hollywood, Calif., in September.

Imagine waking up on Mars tomorrow. You get out of bed, take a look around you, pull out a pouch of space breakfast as you walk past a colleague jogging on a treadmill. Then, you choose a spacesuit, put it on, and go out to explore Mars on foot or in your rover.

Later this year, this will be possible to do, albeit through a virtual reality (VR) simulation developed by a Florida-based media company called Fusion, with the help of NASA and a graduate student from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

NASA already uses VR to train astronauts for deep space missions, so extending the technology to the general public was an obvious step, said Jason Crusan, director of advanced exploration systems at NASA.

“Beyond practical uses for training, virtual reality offers us a compelling method to share the work we’ve been doing to design sustainable human missions and to inspire the next generation of pioneers in space,” Dr. Crusan told Fortune.

To develop an authentic Mars experience, game developers visited NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to check out the hardware and software the space agency is developing for its Mars missions planned for the 2030s.

They drove a prototype rover in the space center’s parking lot and visited NASA’s virtual reality lab, where astronauts are training for missions. The game designers also used real topographic data from Mars to allow gamers to walk or drive the Mars rover across several square miles of the planet’s terrain, as they work on research-oriented mission goals, as Fortune reports.

Living conditions in the game will be informed by the work of aeronautics and astronautics graduate student Sydney Do from MIT's Strategic Engineering Research Group, where he is studying how to sustain life on Mars.

"I look at things like life support, habitat architecture, costs, and plant growth systems," he told

Mr. Do grabbed Fusion’s attention in 2014 when he co-wrote a paper that challenged the technical feasibility of the “Mars One” project, which was launched in 2012 by a Dutch nonprofit that says it’s planning to establish the first human colony on the Red Planet starting in 2020. More than 200,000 people answered the organization's call for volunteers to travel one way in order to start the Martian colony.

“Their work on the Mars One feasibility study was what gave Fusion the idea [for] this project,” Julian Reyes, a VR producer and designer at Fusion, told

The company will preview the game in March at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, and says it plans to release it widely by this summer.

The game will be free on Google Cardboard, Facebook’s Oculus Rift, and Samsung Gear VR. Eventually, Fusion will launch a version of it on PlayStation VR and HTC Vive.

The original soundtrack for the game is performed by the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, according to the company.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to