Science

Free simulator lets you try and fly Elon Musk's Crew Dragon spaceship

Free simulator lets you try and fly Elon Musk's Crew Dragon spaceship”

"We would like to fly a mission that is as long as we need to for a test flight, but also support some of the space station program needs", said Steve Stich, NASA's deputy manager of the commercial crew program.

The game teaches players to control a spaceship's pitch, yaw, roll, and approach speed for a safe docking.

Crew Dragon actually docks with the International Space Station (ISS) fully autonomously, but astronauts are able to take over manual control, should that prove necessary, and this simulator provides what SpaceX says is the "actual interface" that astronauts would use in that instance.

But you can try your hand at docking Musk's latest spacecraft at the ISS here.

If you fantasize of becoming an astronaut and rocketing into space, you'd better also daydream of complex docking manoeuvres with the International Space Station (ISS).

In terms of the real mission, it's been dubbed Demo-2, as it is a demonstration of Crew Dragon's ability to successfully deliver astronauts to space.

In real life, SpaceX added, the procedure will be optional.

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There are, after all, an very bad lot of hurdles that still need to be overcome before Commercial Crew can be declared "operational", most of which are concerned with getting the Crew Dragon duo to and from the ISS safely and assessing how well Elon Musk's space jalopy performed.

SpaceX shared a link to the browser game with a video of its actual docking simulator in Hawthorne, California, where astronauts go to train. The launch is a part of NASA's Commercial Crew program, which is a partnership between the space agency and SpaceX to launch astronauts to the ISS.

Even to those familiar with spaceflight operations, it's not easy.

And SpaceX offers some sage advice: "Movement is space is slow and requires patience and precision".

The proof of its efficacy ultimately depends on how likely it renders the pilot able to succeed with docking, however, so why not give it a shot and see if you can stick the arrival - NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he managed it on his first try, but he is a former Air Force pilot so it's not like he was starting from scratch.

Demo-2 is set to launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. ET from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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