Early Access Build Sent to Kickstarter Backers

Greetings CrowdExplorers!

It’s been a quiet couple months on our end but I am pleased to provide you (the MarsVR Kickstarter backers) with an update on our progress with the Phase 1 Environment, a high-fidelity capture of the real-life Mars Desert Research Station near Hanksville, Utah.

Today we sent the first pre-Beta, Early Access Build to around 20 of our Kickstarter backers that chose that reward level (or higher).  Our core developer team has done a lot of great work, and today we are beginning to expand that team to include additional volunteers and members of the VR community that will be assisting us to close out Phase 1 and begin work on future Phases of MarsVR!

The build contains our 1 square mile of terrain, as well as all exterior buildings and most of the interiors.  Notably missing from the build are the airlock, upper deck, and lower deck, but those scans are done (the airlock was in our convention demo as well) and we are working to clean those up & re-integrate.  We are also working to clean up and finish the exterior building scans and the tunnels that connect the facilities.  The tunnels in particular have been quite a challenge to get accurate, but we are making progress.

I recently returned from the Mars Desert Research Station where I participated in Crew 197 along with Shannon Norrell (our Director of Engineering for MarsVR), and some of our key MarsVR backers.  During our rotation, we scouted terrain that we hope to capture for Phase 2 (additional EVA locations), and we also planned out our mission scenarios in detail.  You can read our Final Mission Summary.

I also participated in the Space Expo 2018 event last Saturday at Seattle’s Museum of Flight where our Early Access Build was shown to around 200 members of the general public.  The feedback was universally positive, and (even better) the experience validated for me the power of virtual reality to tell the story of the human exploration of Mars to the general public, which is one of the main goals of our MarsVR Program.

We are striving to complete Phase 1 as soon as possible, so that we can release & open source a Beta release and a Final release.  This will allow a wider group of the general public to experience MarsVR.

If you would like to assist us with Phase 1 endgame which would include helping us cleanup the VR assets in Unity, please contact me and I can add you to our Slack group and provide access to our private Github and Trello resources.  You can also continue to purchase our Kickstarter rewards to fund Phase 2, using our Backerkit Pre-Order Store, or the Mars Society Official Store.  If you purchase the Early Access build at the $100 level, you can receive that today!

Also, at this time, all physical rewards have been sent to our Kickstarter backers. If you have not received your physical rewards (Metal Medallion, Mission Patches, or Stickers) please let me know.

Thanks again for all your support, and I’ll see you on Mars!

James Burk
Program Manager, MarsVR