'The Expanse' still a hit with astronauts and scientists as new video game releases

an illustration of an astronaut wearing a thick space helmet
Screenshot from The Expanse: A Telltale Series video game. (Image credit: Deck Nine)

"The Expanse" space TV series may be over, but it still lives on as a fandom among astronauts as a video game prequel released on Thursday (July 27).

International Space Station astronaut Andreas Mogensen's love of the series came to light when "The Expanse" was canceled after Season 3 on its first network, Syfy. The Danish citizen wrote a tweet in May 2018, lamenting "Say it ain't so!" of the series' apparent demise. 

Mogensen told Space.com he found himself, unawares, joining a growing Twitter campaign to keep the series going as the showrunners shopped their concept to other buyers — which clearly worked as Season 4 aired in 2019 on Amazon Prime.

"I had just started watching 'The Expanse' and absolutely loved it, especially the attention to detail, especially when it comes to human physiology," Mogensen, a European Space Agency astronaut, told Space.com on Tuesday (July 25) during a press conference for his next mission, SpaceX Crew-7.

Crew-7 includes Mogensen, NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa, and Konstantin Borisov of Russia's space agency, Roscosmos. The quartet will launch from NASA's Kennedy Space Center at 6:56 a.m. EDT (1056 GMT) no earlier than Aug. 17. You can watch the events live at Space.com, via NASA Television.

Related: SpaceX's Crew-7 astronaut launch delayed to Aug. 17

"The Expanse" ran on Syfy for its first three seasons and then Amazon Prime for its final three. It is based on a series of novels under the pen name James S.A. Corey (a joint effort of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck). The novels and series alike follow the far future of humanity, when settlements are all over the solar system and coming into conflict with each other.

While the series finished for good in January 2022, a continuation started up Thursday in video game format."The Expanse: A Telltale Series" by Telltale Games will release five prequel episodes of the series between July and September for PlayStation 4/5, Xbox X/S/One and Microsoft Windows.

Related: The Expanse: A Telltale Series preview — Trust your gut before your head gets in the way

Mogensen will be in space while the video game is released, and didn't directly answer a Space.com question about whether he plans to do a rewatch of the series during his limited spare time. But he did praise the accuracy of the franchise.

"They had taken account of how our human bodies would be affected by being born and growing up in the asteroid belt," he said. "I thought that was really fascinating. It was one of the first science fiction series that I knew that had gone into that detail."

Mogensen wasn't the only astronaut asking for "The Expanse" to keep going. NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio tweeted in 2018 during the save the series campaign during a break from supporting a cargo mission with Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft. (By coincidence, Mastracchio today works for Northrop Grumman.)

"It's an inspiring show and fun to watch. Check it out," Mastracchio tweeted.

Scientists working on NASA missions have also supported "The Expanse" over the years. For example: Robert Hurt, an astronomer who does visualizations for NASA at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), did a space trivia contest with show cast members in 2019.

A 2017 public panel about the science of "The Expanse" featured several real-life scientists with agency connections, including Jessie Christiansen, an astronomer at the NASA Exoplanet Science Institute at Caltech, and Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at SETI Institute (which regularly works with NASA.)

If you want to find out more about The Expanse game, check out our interview with actor Cara Gee where she discussed reprising her role for the game.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace

  • Who_cares240
    It's fantastic to see "The Expanse" continuing to resonate with astronauts and scientists, and the release of a new video game adds an exciting dimension to the series. Here's a positive perspective on this convergence of entertainment and space exploration:

    Title: "The Expanse" - Bridging Fiction and Reality with Galactic Thrills

    "The Expanse," a science fiction masterpiece, not only captures the imaginations of avid fans but has become a beloved source of inspiration for astronauts and scientists alike. The recent release of a video game set in "The Expanse" universe is a testament to the enduring impact of the series. Here's why this synergy between fiction and reality is creating waves of excitement:

    1. A Sci-Fi Epic with Scientific Integrity:
    "The Expanse" has earned praise for its commitment to scientific accuracy. Its portrayal of space travel, physics, and the challenges of living beyond Earth aligns with real-world scientific principles. This adherence to accuracy resonates with astronauts and scientists who appreciate the fusion of gripping storytelling with scientific realism.

    2. Galactic Exploration in the Gaming Realm:
    The release of a video game set in "The Expanse" universe opens up a new frontier for fans. Now, players can immerse themselves in the rich narrative, intricate politics, and thrilling space exploration firsthand. This gaming experience extends the reach of the series, inviting both seasoned fans and newcomers to embark on their own space-
  • LKK
    I love the books and shows and the nod to realistic space scenes, although the story does hinge on 2 "magical" things, the entity , and the hand waving "Epstein Drive"