Space Exploration

Gateway to the Moon


Participants play a game that steps through a human mission to the Moon via the Gateway, to learn about the variety of people on the ground supporting missions, and the factors that can affect a mission outcome.

Activity Time

10 minutes, although participants may opt to repeat the game multiple times.

Intended Audience

  • Families or other mixed-age groups, including children as young as 4 years old with assistance from an older child, teen, or adult
  • School-aged children ages 5 and up
  • Tweens

What's the Point?

  • NASA’s Gateway outpost will allow astronauts to explore more of the Moon than ever before and perfect operations for missions deeper into our solar system.
  • Each space mission is supported by a large team with different responsibilities.
  • Missions are influenced by many factors, including weather, solar storms, human health, and technological problems.




Before the event
  • Prepare the posters:
    • Each Poster should have the step written at the top: Step One: Launch from Earth, Step Two: Gateway Activities, Step Three: Mission Activity, Step Four: Return to Gateway
    • Print and fold the poster scenarios, then tape each of the six (Flight Director, Mission Engineer, Flight Activities Officer, Flight Surgeon, Weather Officer, and Electrical Engineer) to the appropriate poster, so that lifting the flap will reveal the information.
    • Tape the posters in order on walls or prop them up on stands.
  • Wrap or cover the faces of the boxes with the colorful paper, and write numbers 1 through 6 on the faces, to be used as dice.


  1. Share ideas and knowledge.
    • Introduce yourself. Help the participants learn each other’s names (if they don’t already).
    • (Optional) Show the participants the video “How We Are Going to the Moon” and frame the activity with the main message: each space mission has a large team with different responsibilities helping it to be successful.
    • Ask the participants what they would like to explore on the Moon.
      • What would they do on the Moon?
      • What are some of the reasons that a trip to the Moon is difficult?
    • As much as possible, encourage the participants to offer information and to respond to others’ questions. This model can be used to answer questions such as:
      • Why do they want to go to the Moon?
      • What are some of the jobs people could do on the Moon?
      • What help do astronauts need from people on Earth?
  2. Explain the game. Let the participants know that they will be using a mission sheet to follow the steps of a human mission to the Gateway and go to different posters. If the mission fails, they need to return to get a new mission sheet.
    • Each poster has different mission staff on it, with a number for written next to each one.
    • At each poster, they will each roll a box with numbers on it (a die).
    • Depending on what number they get, they will lift a flap on the poster and follow the directions.
    • When they successfully complete a mission, they can start a new one, until everyone has finished at least one mission.
    These are just a handful of the people that support NASA missions:
    • Flight Director: leads the flight control team and is responsible for the overall mission; the Flight Director makes all decisions regarding a safe, expedient flight.
    • Mission Engineer: provides technical supervision related to critical spaceflight/aerospace hardware testing, and handling.
    • Flight Activities Officer: plans and supports crew activities, checklists, procedures and schedules.
    • Flight Surgeon: monitors crew activities, coordinates the medical operations flight control team, provides crew consultation, and advises flight director of the crew's health status.
    • Weather Officer: provides up-to-date information on the potential weather or space weather hazards near the spacecraft.
    • Electrical Engineer: provides technical support related to critical electrical hardware.
  3. Conclude. Draw on the participants’ observations and reflections:
    • What are the different types of jobs for people helping with space missions?
    • What are some of the problems that might come up during a mission?
    • Do all missions always finish successfully?
    • Aside from being an astronaut, what roles would they like to perform in a mission?

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