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Achieving the dream of becoming an astronaut always seems realistic from childhood, until you grow up. But this week, we have an application that may take you a step closer to space, even as an adult.
Space Nation Navigator, currently available for Android with an iOS version coming soon, is an astronaut training application filled with a wide range of activities, from mental games to physical exercises. In collaboration with NASA, the Finnish startup Space Nation hopes to give users an idea of what it takes to be an astronaut through a fun mobile application.
The application is divided into four sections: Base, Missions, Profile and Store, which you can change from one side to the other. In Base, you will find content related to the space you can read or listen to, from articles to podcasts. It is also where you will see your own score, such as weekly rank, weekly points and training level. Below your own score, there is a leaderboard to which you can refer to see the best ranked players of the week along with the highest scores of all time. Each week, your score is deleted to give you the opportunity to get an even higher score next time.
If you ask why the scores are so important, it is what defines the prize that could potentially win. After three 12-week cycles, you could be one in 100 trainees chosen to participate in a training camp. Of those 100, 12 will be chosen to experience a 10-week astronaut training camp located in Iceland, where a winner will receive a trip to space with expenses paid.
The fun begins under the Missions section, where you can play all different types of games to help increase your score. At the top, there is a "Weekly Adventure", which takes you through a series of different games and activities to complete. These are designed to cover a full range of skills, be it a challenge to your brain or your body. You can also choose to do separate missions one by one if you want to jump between different skills to try. To complete the weekly adventure, you have to beat each mission.
At first, I thought that the games would be extremely easy to pass, but I was definitely wrong: they are hard. While I did not have the opportunity to try the training activities, I tried all the mind missions, which made my brain feel like it was trying to solve Sudoku puzzles in repetition. Along the way, it definitely becomes easier as you get used to how each game works.
The one I found most challenging along is called "Repair the Wayfarer", where you have to save your ship after it was hit. This involves performing multiple tasks very quickly, as it designates the right people to fix each part according to their experience, before time runs out. It may be difficult to focus on your strategy at first, but after playing a few more times I managed to get past that level without – just – breaking a sweat.
To really break the sweat, you can participate in the body missions that you can also incorporate into your daily exercise. For example, a mission requires you to run since the application notifies you when you reach a specific control point. He also uses GPS to track your races along the way.
A game that definitely gave me a glimpse of what it must be like to try to exist as normally as possible in space was called "Lunch anyone." This is where you have to cook solids, pastas and liquids meals without contaminating them. On the side of the screen, you will have different recipes to follow and put together. While that sounds simple, it is difficult to do it with zero gravity, since all its ingredients float around.
There are also questionnaires that you can take: specifically I took one that assesses your language skills and another for cultural understanding. There were questions that proved my knowledge of the spatial terms but also how I should act if I were aboard a spaceship with other astronauts. As you respond to each one, you will receive a brief fact or explanation below to help you learn as you go. That way, even if it does not happen the first time, you will know the correct answer for the next time.
To keep track of all your progress, there is a designated profile section to which you can refer periodically. It will list your weekly points, weekly rank and all-time range. This is also where you can track the different badges you have unlocked while you explore 13 training topics.
Space Nation Navigator is free, but includes microtransactions, and advertisements that appear from time to time. . It is important to keep in mind that if you decide to try the missions again, you will have to spend the coins that you collect during the game. You can buy more through the Store section, which, depending on how many you buy, can go from $ 1 to $ 170.