Hey, did you know that NASA is working on an official MMO? I sure didn't. And it's looking for funding to put out a beta.
To be honest, NASA doesn't seem like the type of agency that would make for a good MMO. Like, you'd have about fifty levels of useless bureaucracy in your guild and nothing would ever get done, and all your gear would cost about ten times more than it was originally supposed to.
I guess it's good, then, that NASA saw fit to farm out the creation of Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond to someone more experienced at making a game that's actually fun, but in doing so they've had to turn it into a commercial product, which means that all of a sudden it's got a budget that isn't just wishful thinking. Hence, Kickstarter. And if you decide to pledge, you can get everything from a beta key all the way up to totally dorky but still incredibly awesome NASA MMO-themed t-shirt, jerseys, and letterman jackets.
Unlike most MMOs, Astronaut is designed from the ground up to be mostly realistic. Game elements and mechanics will be based largely on real-world technology, or at least, the real-world technology of 2035, which is when the game takes place. Being a NASA project (with some NASA funding), the MMO is supposed to be educational for kids, but NASA also realizes that the best way to teach something is to make it exciting and fun, so that's a focus too.
Astronaut will be built on the Unreal engine, which doesn't necessarily mean that there will be a violent deathmatch element, but who knows for sure. It'll run on computers, mobile devices (like iPads), and "select consoles." If the Kickstarter campaign hits its goal (which seems likely at this point), the beta will be available by December of next year.
UPDATE: NASA blew past its goal by over $5,000. Looks like this game will get made!