Despite setbacks, rigorous competition, and political turmoil, it’s an exciting time for space travel. Flexing against the yolk of Earth’s gravity is no longer the prerogative of governments alone. Private companies like Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, and SpaceX are making tantalizing advancements with the goal of turning humanity into a multi-planet species. We’ve reached a point where we can actually look forward to getting civilians to Mars within our lifetimes–an invigorating enough prospect that the recent sci-fi space opera Mass Effect Andromeda made one of these companies’ exploits the basis for the fantastical colonization of galaxies.
I’m currently 35 hours deep into MEA, a game big enough to lose yourself in, so I thought I had seen more or less everything in my well-tread pathfinder’s quarters. So when I got the action prompt that said “SpaceX Rocket Model,” I thought my tired eyes were betraying me. But no; SpaceX is now Mass Effect canon.
Tucked beside books and holo-terminals is a model of the upcoming Falcon Heavy rocket, purported to be the most powerful rocket in operational by a factor of two. Combined with SpaceX’s reusable rocket technology, the Heavy is supposed to be the company’s way to simultaneously make spaceflight more affordable and to get humans to Mars. MEA believes in SpaceX enough to take them at their word; after I found the model, my codex updated with an entry effectively saying that SpaceX’s extraterrestrial efforts made the Mass Effect franchise’s cosmic, weaving storylines possible.
Here is the codex entry in full:
But the lure of sending people into the cosmos never lost its draw. In the early 21st century, a private company called SpaceX pioneered efforts in sustainable space travel by developing a reusable launch system. It revolutionized the field as the first entity, government or private, to successfully launch and then safely recover an orbital booster rocket intact, allowing it to be reused in future launches. Reusable hardware placed lower-cost, sustainable space travel within reach.
Galvanized by SpaceX’s achievements, a renaissance in space exploration followed. Reusable launch system technology later became pivotal in establishing the European Space Agency’s first permanent settlement on Mars, Lowell City, in 2103.
MEA‘s little nod to Elon Musk and his company is the kind of easter egg I’d love to see more of. Sure, there are datapads and terminals and emails to give long-time Mass Effect fans surprises that reward our hundreds of hours spent on the series, but this looks forward. Not only does it pull from the real world, it puts faith in real human endeavors and encourages them to succeed. Though in a physics-bending universe, MEA acknowledges that real science and engineering is the way forward.
If I find a NPC Elon Musk in this game I’m going to lose my shit.
Images: PS4 screen capture of Mass Effect Andromeda