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Phase 1
Project Underway!
Final Kickstarter Stats
$31,482 raised (114% of Goal)
198 Backers - THANK YOU!
16,485 people watched our Trailer Video
9 press appearances
100+ social media posts
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About the MarsVR Program

The Mars Society is building a new open-source Virtual Reality platform — we call it “MarsVR” — that can be used for serious research towards the goal of sending humans to Mars. The MarsVR Program will be a multi-phase effort designed to pioneer the emerging field of CrowdExploration, which we define as the partnership between the first astronauts on Mars and the VR experts and enthusiasts back on Earth. We aim to establish the capability of using Virtual Reality to assist with the initial human exploration of landing sites. Phase I of the Mars VR Program will focus on designing training simulations for use at the Mars Desert Research Station, providing direct assistance in the training of MDRS crew members. We will also open-source the key elements of the platform so that the general public can freely make use of it to experience the exploration of Mars.

Phase 1 (2018-2019)

Phase 1 of MarsVR was focused on creating a prototype training environment centered on the Mars Desert Research Station.  We scanned the base and a square mile of terrain using a drone and the latest photogrammetry techniques.  We stitched these visual and virtual reality data assets together into a Unity project that was successfully demoed at the Mars Society conference and several other events.  The Phase 1 build is available for chapters and interested enthusiasts to request but it is not yet publicly available.  This is because there is some cleanup work remaining to ensure the buildings are accurate and the overall experience is high quality.  Our team of volunteers is presently finalizing this environment and it should be ready in Spring 2020.

Phase 2

Phase 2 is focused on a more general Unity project that can feature multiple environments and 3-d Base/Colony designs in addition to the MDRS facilities.  Work has started on Phase 2 and a public alpha version is expected in 2020.

News (New! 2020)

Red Bull Blog

Mondo 2000

Spaceflight Insider

Mars Daily (Space Daily)

Daily Sentinel (Grand Junction, CO)

The Business Times

A Blog About Nothing In Particular


TechoAndroid (in Italian)

Realite-Virtuelle (in French)



TMRO video interview at ISDC conference

Colorado ABC Affiliate (KJCT Channel 8) local news segment

Red Planet Radio podcast interview

Kickstarter Trailer on Youtube




"At the Mars Desert Research Station, we could try a demonstration of this method of exploration." -- Dr. Robert Zubrin
We plan to build a complete high-resolution simulation of the Mars Desert Research Station (both inside & out) and include also the other nearby modules. To complete the experience, we will scan a one-square-mile capture of the terrain around the MDRS using the latest photogrammetry techniques.

We'll use this high-fidelity VR environment to train our crew members, before they arrive at the hab. Because every moment at the MDRS is precious, just like being in space, and we want them to make the most of it all.

Transforming the MDRS into a VR Environment

Goals of the MarsVR Platform

What we hope to accomplish in building out a new Virtual Reality technology stack.

A Serious Research Tool

We hope to use Virtual Reality to do serious research on the challenges of exploring a landing site.

An Open Source Platform

We want to ensure that MarsVR is available and customizable for everybody. "Free" as in "Freedom".

An Example of Best Practices

We want to make best use of generally accepted technology processes and tools.

A Love Letter to Space Geeks

Built by and for space advocates, we hope everybody will enjoy this VR platform.

An Inspiration to the Youth

We aim to inspire the next generation of explorers and aspiring astronauts.

A STEM Education Platform

MarsVR will be a free, open source, and customizable environment, able to meet many educational purposes.

A Public Outreach Tool

We hope to use MarsVR to tell the story of the future human exploration of Mars.

An Immersive VR Experience

MarsVR will be a fully immersive experience, transporting you to the MDRS and able to explore everything. v0.1 | Designed and Developed by James Burk