Want to be an astronaut? Test your spacecraft flying skills with this free video game

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Last month, SpaceX, an American aerospace company, released a free video game called “ISS Docking Simulator” that simulates the flight and docking maneuvers of the Crew Dragon spacecraft with the International Space Station. The game depicts the controls of the real-life interface used by NASA Astronauts to fly the spacecraft to the space station and can be accessed from any web browser.  

SpaceX reportedly published the video game two weeks before its historical test flight Demo-2–a mission involving the Crew Dragon shuttle piloted by NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.   

The mission, which was live-streamed on social media platforms on May 30, was the first time NASA Astronauts had launched from the United States since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. This mission also signified the first-ever successful SpaceX launch operated by humans, which is the first launch of its kind by a private company.   

SpaceX Demo-2 Launch | Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Over one million viewers from around the world watched the live stream. They witnessed the spacecraft’s journey from the Kennedy Space Center in the US then into space, reaching speeds of over 17,000 miles per hour.  

SpaceX notes that the video game simulator was designed to get players acquainted with the controls used by NASA Astronauts when manually piloting the Crew Dragon to the International Space Station. The simulator allows you to control the spacecraft’s distance, roll, pitch and yaw, and proves to be complicated even for flight simulator veterans.  

On the in-game touchscreen-panel interface, you may notice green numbers that show you the corrections which are necessary to reach the International Space Station.  

SpaceX mentions that “a successful docking will occur when all the displayed correction numbers are below 0.2.” The company also notes that it is best to be precise in your movements and not to make large, sudden moves since motion in space is slow.  

A short YouTube video, posted by SpaceX, shows an astronaut training with the simulation software. In a thread announcing the video on Twitter, the company noted that Crew Dragon missions will autonomously dock and undock with the space station, but the crew can take manual control of the spacecraft if necessary. 

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