A space simulator can be as simple as a spacecraft
simulation program running on your PC or as elaborate
as a detailed, full scale hardware simulation of a shuttle
Or perhaps it's a large scale group simulation carried
out over the internet in which the participants play
different roles, e.g. mission controllers or astronauts,
in carrying out a mission scenario such as launching
a satellite from the shuttle.
This section provides links and descriptions of all
sorts of web resources related to both software and
hardware space simulations.
CASA, Columbia Aeronautics and Space Association,
is a truly unique program housed on the campus of
Hickman High School, Columbia, Missouri, USA. The
largest student run space simulation in the nation,
it uses an aerospace theme to provide a multidisciplinary
learning experience which incorporates not only aerospace
concepts, but also a knowledge of English, mathematics
and science. The program utilizes themes in context
curriculum which allows students to experience aerospace
principles first hand, and develop life skills such
as teamwork, responsibility, and leadership.
Space Lab - "a 12 foot-long, full-scale replica
of a space laboratory module that would be found as
a part of the International Space Station."
Shuttle - "12 foot-long motion-controlled
flight simulator that resembles the Space Shuttle
and gives students the sensation of piloting a spacecraft
in low Earth orbit. "
Control - "has a complete set of teleconferencing
and Internet links that correspond with workstations
aboard the Odyssey SpaceLab. Mission Control is also
equipped to teleconference with cadets piloting the
Orion flight simulator at a third school."
The students build small robots
(from LEGO DACTA parts) with video cameras and a simulated
Marscape for it to explore. Software is provided so
that the students can control the robot and recieve
the video from the robot.
The robots can also be controlled over the internet
so students can control the rovers at other student
sites on the web.
Equipment/software packages are available.
Most of the following information was sent to me by
James Dean worked at the Johnson Space Center from
1990 to 2001 first in the astronaut support office
for five years and then the lead for the ISSP Outreach
and Education group. One of the things he did on the
side was to develop a high fidelity, hands-on Space
Shuttle launch and on-orbit simulation program.
The full environment includes;
Full size Shuttle flight deck
All NASA Shuttle training manuals
All Flight Data File manuals KSC launch procedure
JSC crew training CDs
Use of Mac MECO STK Precision Approach Launch
On-orbit full rev "out the window" Earth view
He has built functional flight decks for various
museums and schools around the country. For example,
he provided a Shuttle simulation program for the National
Space Science & Technology Institute in Colorado
Springs Colorado. He also completed a launch simulation
course at his local middle school.
He offers a package of materials that a school can
use for Shuttle training and operations course. All
they need is a PC, a Mac, a TV, a video cassete player
and a stereo.
All the NASA material was acquired through work at
NASA and is all in the public domain.
He does not take payment for his services but builds
the simulators in his spare time. He gives them to
organizations that cannot afford the museum quality
versions that companies like
Space1.com produce and doesn't want don't want
to compete with them.
He offers plans for construction of the shell, framework,
and interior panels. The power system, caution and
warning system, lighting system, and AC power distribution
system are patterned from Shuttle schematics.
All this is available to anyone that would like to
undertake a project like this.
was a a wondeful and elaborate site that supported
"... an educational collaborative project
to design and simulate a manned mission to the
Red Planet. Browse through our extensive collection
of Mars related resources at the Academy and participate
with our members from all over the world in the
design of the mission at the Mars Mission Design
"...engaged students on four continents
in an extended space simulation covering many
months. This project sought to overcome some of
the limitations inherent in short-term educational
space simulations by increasing the duration of
MoonCity - LunarSat
* MoonCity at University of Innsbruck LunarSat
was a European project to send a small spacecraft
to orbit the moon to carry out several scientific
tasks, especially to confirm the presence of water
ice at the polar regions.
are intended to be a major part of the project.
The MoonCity program involves students in to design
and simulate bases on the moon.
At the University of Innsbruck about "340
students worked for an entire semester to create
a far future city on the Moon to host roughly 2000
A follow-on to this activity was the MoonCivilization
program that involved "...students from all
over Europe are planning -in groups, so-called "MoonTeams"
or alone - to virtually colonize the Moon."
Virtual Shuttle was a spectacular site created
by students in the Space Club at St.Peter's School
in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The interactive real
time simulation of a shuttle mission allowed one
"...participate in a simulation of a complete
Space Shuttle mission together with other virtual
astronauts and mission controllers from all over
the world. "
- The European Space Agency (ESA) and the Russian
Institute for Biomedical Problems (IBMP) in Moscow
sponsoring this project in which 6 people simulated
a mission to Mars by living for 520 days inside a
replica of a space habitat. The "flight" took off
at the IBMP on June 3, 2010 and ended on November
Planet Expeditions, Inc. (RPE) - "setting
out to build, market, and license the world's
first Mars-themed adventure resort that will authentically
simulate what it will be like to be on an expedition
on Mars in the year 2035." John Spencer of
Tourism Society is a co-founder.
- space theme attraction near Liverpool, England
The following section lists various space
related simulation programs. These can be in game or
exploration formats. The simulators include commercial
programs and others are freeware or shareware.
A number of the following simulators are
no longer sold commercially by the original companies.
This has become quite common as technology moves on.
However, many of these old programs are still quite
playable and remain in demand.
So a number of abandonware
sites have arisen on the net that provide free downloads
of copies of such orphaned programs. The legality of
such services, though, is highly in dispute but some
sites make an effort to state the legal status of a
each program (e.g. Underdogs ).
Check also these sections for online and offline space
This is a DOS game from Interplay, although
no longer listed in their catalog. It became available
on CDROM in 1994 and
"..features over 20 historic and proposed
plans to reach the moon"..." The players'
mission is to be the first to put their nation's
flag on the moon"..." resources include
that of over 140 astronauts or cosmonauts from
which the player will plan, manipulate and direct
every possible mission: sub-orbital; orbital manned
and unmanned; planetary and lunar fly-bys; lunar
orbits; space-walks; LEM tests; lunar passes;
and lunar landings"...."over 60 minutes
of full-motion video."
A-OK! The Wings
"A-OK! The Wings of Mercury is a realistic simulation
of the Mercury spacecraft. It features 3D graphics,
fully functional control panels, networked simulations,
and a complete manual.
Version 3.5 is now available on Windows XP and Mac
OS X. A-OK! WoM is so realistic, you will use the
actual checklists used by the astronauts. Orbital
and Sub-Orbital missions can be simulated. Orbital
missions and a Mission Control Center simulator are
available to registered users."
This company, founded by 2 former flight dynamics officers
at NASA, offers several space simulation
programs. Unfortunately, the programs are intended
for museums and arcades settings and so are extremely
- Mission Simulation Software intended for large installations
such as at museum or space camp situation.
"...3D dexterity game about asteroid mining
in deep space. You are a Beltminer. You have been
issued a Prospector mining craft in order to land
on asteroids and stake a cliam on valuable minerals.
These minerals will be used for the good of the space
station Terra. Your ultimate goal is to find water...and
construct an Ice-water extractor on an asteroid.
At the end of each mission, you will will have to
spend a percentage of you credits on repairing the
Prospector, buying Mineral Beacons, and re-fueling
your craft. Once you collect enough resources...you
will be able to build an Ice Water Extractor."
An elaborate modular simulator that will allow for multiple
vehicle and mission simulations.
" LIFTOFF is the first in a series of space
simulations. There is almost no limit to what you
can do with this long awaited - very cool - software!
Take a virtual tour of the space shuttle, take it
apart and reassemble it, manipulate it and experiment
with weightlessness. You'll even find detailed virtual
Discover the history of Space Exploration including
the history of rocketry and the space race, a much-needed
glossary of acronyms and a timeline extending from
the 17th century.
Plus you'll find teacher material and resources
included! And, last but not least and our favorite...astronaut
training! Feel the power as you launch into space
and take command of the Space Shuttle from launch
through orbit, solve problems, deal with emergencies,
talk to Mission Control and roam in weightlessness
through the Shuttle cockpit and crew area."
Landers / Lunar Explorers Lunar landers were among the first of computer games
and are still popular. Controlling the thrust and orientation
of the vehicle for a smooth landing can be quite a challenge.
Landing simulators are available at varying levels of
2010 is a Lunar Rover Simulator that "is a fun
way to tour the Lunar surface and see some of the
elements that make up NASA's Lunar architecture".
It is "compatible with iPhone and iPod touch ".
Colony ETS simulation program "challenges
the player with surviving and exploring an unknown
planetary environment, in an immersive first person
3D graphics experience." Provides simulation
of habitat management, EVA, planet weather, and
more, See screenshots.
Control High-fidelity space shuttle simulation software
for the Apple 68k Macintosh and Power Pc machines.
Detailed simulation of shuttle main engine and solid
rocket booster performance gives realistic shuttle launch
and ascent simulations. Detailed cockpit display and
MacSPOC (SPOC = Spacecraft Personal Orbit Computations)
Orbit computation engine and teacher that can also be
used for simulated space missions.
Documentation and demo software available for downloading.
Microsoft Space Simulator
This program is not longer available from MS. In
fact, it was apparently the last DOS game published
by MS. You might find it at a garage sale or used
There are often discussions on the news groups
about it.See also the FAQ
at GameFaqs for help on the program.
MS Flight Simulator
95, 98, etc. d
Doesn't come with any spacecraft simulations but some
third party sources provide space related add-ons.
Models: the Simviation
misc page offers a free Discovery Shuttle
FS model. (The flight characteristics are not
realistic, i.e. it can do a fly around if the
landing is going wrong which the real shuttles
can't do.) There are also an X-15 multi-player
and a simulator of the Spacecraft Orion as seen
in 2001 Space Odyssey
"ORBITER is a realistic space simulation using
proper physics for the modelling of planetary motion,
gravitational fields, free space and atmospheric flight
etc. As such, it is more challenging to master than
an arcade game - you should at least have some basic
idea about mechanics and planetary motion to get the
most from it."
Play in Space by Bruce Irving
"'Orbiter Manual for the rest of us' - meaning
that it's an easy to read introduction to Orbiter,
primarily aimed at readers who come from a non-technical
background be they adults or children."
Based on the actual software currently
used for training at Kennedy Space Center's Launch
Control Center, this software enables a launch countdown
simulation with a networked system of computers.
Materials are created by teachers for teachers and
aligned with national education standards. There
are five console stations for your student engineers:
Main Engines, External Tank, BioMed, Weather and
Environmental Control. While this is targeted for
middle school students, it is easily scaled up to
the high school level.
This software is an interactive, inquiry-based method
for your students to practice the materials they
learn in the classroom. It also answers the age
old question, "When will I ever use this stuff I'm
learning in the classroom?"
Solar and laser driven space sails may provide a practical
method of transport around our solar system and even outside
of it. There are a number of simulators available and
These programs deal large space habitats. The stations
could be generic or specifically the International Space
Station. Some are games dealing with the construction
and operation of space stations.
Others employ sophisticated 3D modelling to allow the
user to move through the inside and/or outside of a
station. Some also allow one to see the orbit and orientation
of the station.
Station Manager - Mistaril - From Mistaril
Games this program provides "strategy game
set in an immersive near future. Apply your creativity
and imagination to solve problems as a manager for
a newly founded space station orbiting earth. Face
logical challenges as you balance your resources and
your goals for the station.
Or just sit back and watch the earth flow slowly underneath.
The modules and technology are a mix of modern trends
and futuristic vision. Feel the heartbeat of the station
with vital statistics simulated in real time. Listen
for the small signs in power, thermal control or life
support to determine how healthy you creation is..."
you'll experience the thrill of conducting NASA
repair work on the International Space Station.
After negotiating your way through the airlock,
you, the astronaut, will be tasked with four jobs
critical to help power up the space station so
it can continue to operate at full capacity. But
you have to move quickly and carefully, with a
limited quantity of oxygen you must complete your
EVAs and get back into the airlock before your
air supply runs out.
This game features simulations of actual extravehicular
activities (EVAs) conducted by NASA astronauts
on missions to provide power to the space station.
The graphics used in this game are based on real
NASA missions and incorporate 3D graphics used
by the Agency.
Skybase: Space Station Simulator - design, build
and explore a detailed simulation of the International
Space Station. Make variations from the official design.
Station Simulator -
Focus Multimedia - Revised and updated version
of the Space Station Simulator first released in 1996.
The user interactively builds the ISS (or a custom
version), can explore outside and inside the station,
dock a shuttle or Russian Soyuz and Progress to the
station, carry out EVA's and more.
is "one of main developers of visual simulation
software for Russian spacecraft and aircraft training
systems." They have expanded into general
software that includes simulations, games, graphics
and other products.
For example, they have a virtual model of the
of the Mir module "Priroda". This VR system is
used by theYuri Gagarin Cosmonauts Training Center
to familiarize cosmonauts that will be
working on Mir.
Astronaut - an educational web-based 3-D simulation
of the ISS. Aimed at elementary grade levels, activities
involve many aspects of space life. Quizzes and puzzles
are included with particular tasks.
a rich, realistic digital simulation that
lets you explore Earth from the window of the International
Space Station—as if you were an astronaut. You can
fly over the dramatic Himalayas, the vast Sahara,
lush rain forests, or the impressive Grand Canyon.
Explore and learn more...
Download this space simulator developed by as an outreach
"Space Pinball is an educational package /software
game (in development), that is [...]downloadable from
internet. It should offer users, aged between 12 and
21, knowledge on gravity and orbital mechanics. Each
level of difficulty includes a 3D game in which the
presented knowledge can be practised. You can actually
take control of a satellite in space!"
is a free space simulation software that lets
you explore the universe in three dimensions, starting
from planet Earth to the most distant galaxies. Areas
of the known universe are represented using actual astronomical
data, while regions uncharted by human astronomy are
generated procedurally. Millions of galaxies, trillions
of stars, countless planets!
Voyager and Giotto Space Mission Simulator
"simulate space as seen from the Voyager and Giotto
spacecraft. In addition, ... generate scenes from arbitrary
points in space or the Earth, with the spacecraft visible
to the observer. The planet, moons, and rings of interest
(or comet, nucleus, and tail), stars, the sun, and the
spacecraft are all accurately drawn with wireframe representations..."
"developed at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory by
John D. Callahan to assist in the analysis of science
and optical navigation data..program was filmed by the
BBC as part of a NOVA documentary on the Voyager Uranus
John Lewis's Asteroid Impact Modelling The 1999
book: Comet and Asteroid Impact Hazards on a Populated
Earth : Computer Modeling by John S. Lewis comes
with a program on a diskette that allows you to bombard
the earth with objects of various sizes and types
to estimate the resulting death and destruction. Read
Astro - "dedicated to astronomy and Frontier
Elite 2/Frontier First Encounters"
- "Oolite is a space sim game, inspired by Elite,
powered by Objective-C and OpenGL, and designed as
a small game that is easy for users to pick up, modify
and expand upon. Almost every aspect of the game can
be changed by using simple, free graphics packages
and text editors."
(video game) - Wikipedia - "a seminal
space trading computer game, originally published
by Acornsoft in 1984 for the BBC Micro and Acorn
Electron computers. [...] Elite's open-ended game
model, advanced game engine and revolutionary
3D graphics ensured that it was ported to virtually
every contemporary home computer system, and earned
it a place as a classic and a genre maker in gaming
Commander (video game) - Wikipedia - "Released
by Origin Systems in 1990, the game was a marked
departure from the standard formula, bringing
space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars
films. Set in the year 2654 and characterized
by Chris Roberts as 'World War II in space,' it
featured a multi-national cast of pilots from
the 'Terran Confederation' flying missions against
the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior
race. Most impressively, cockpit performance affected
gameplay: going above and beyond the call of duty
resulted in medals, promotions in rank were awarded
at regular intervals, and success or failure on
certain critical missions would even decide the
player's plot progress, 'winning' or 'losing'."
Simulators with Space Options
These programs are intended primarily to simulate airplanes
but some include suborbital vehicles (X-15 and SS1)
and/or have a shuttle landing sim:
- This simulator is apparently aimed towards RC hobbyists
who can configure their system to operate the simulator
with RC transmitters to test the flying of their models.
However, it wll also work with a joystick or keyboard.
Fly the Scaled Composites White Knight with
SpaceShipOne - Download
freeware PRE-Flight 2.00 from Simtel
Model from PreflightSim.com.
After installing the simulator, open the SS1 zip
file into the Model subdirectory. Run the simulator
and click on the Model menu and then choose Load
and select the ss1.3dm file. The SS1 can be dropped
and its engine fired.
Aircraft Specification Simulator - "This
Excel workbook allows you to specify the dimensions,
power plant, and maximum takeoff weight of an
aircraft; the workbook then computes its weights
and allows you to explore its flight performance
envelope. (It's not a flight simulator, but tests
what speed and altitude the aircraft could attain.
Provisions include simming orbital spaceplanes
and airships, as well as conventional airplanes."
Starship Specification Spreadsheet -
"An Excel workbook for spacecraft mass, propulsion,
fuel, etc. The filename says "space warships,"
but it can be used for civil cargo/passenger ships
2010 is a Lunar Rover Simulator that "is a
fun way to tour the Lunar surface and see some
of the elements that make up NASA's Lunar architecture".
It is "compatible with iPhone and iPod touch ".
"a game for your iPad, Android tablet or computer.
It lets you fly in space, learning hands-on the lessons
of orbital mechanics that confounded the early astronauts.
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, but you are
going to need perseverance! You’ll cover simple lessons,
like how and when to fire your engine to make your
elliptical orbit circular. How do you transfer from
one circular orbit to another? How do you get back
to Earth? That’s kind of important, to your family
at least, and all space odysseys start with training!
- " software that allows teachers and students
to run a 4-D climate model on desktop computers. The
GCM at the core of EdGCM was developed at NASA and
is currently in use by researchers to study climates
of the past, present and future.
- Multimedia Program Library 3D (MPL3D) Solar System
MPL3D Solar System is a 3D interactive
simulation of the close universe in real time. Explore
more than 10,000 mapped objects, including Solar
System, +120 known extrasolar worlds, +250 multiple
star systems, nebulae, star clusters, galaxies and
Space Tourism Market Simulation (STMS) is an
interactive simulation covering various disciplines
such as rocket engineering, economics, design,
laws, ethics, art, etc. around space tourism to
understand and practice coherences about this
topic. Participants can choose one out of eight
specific groups such as passenger, manufacturer,
organization, space travel agency, investor, government,
opposition or own created group. They can either
cooperate or compete with other groups. The idea
of STMS is to improve participant’s knowledge
and skills of space tourism in the fields of strategic
decision-making, engineering, teamwork, marketing
and entrepreneurial activities.
- Apogee Rockets - allows the amateur rocket maker
to design rockets "by pointing and clicking at
the parts". Then the rocket can be run through
a flight simulation which will describe how fast it
will travel, how high it will go, when and where during
the flight the parachute is deployed, and most importantly,
it determines if the model will be stable and therefore
safe to fly."
Instead of controlling a spacecraft or
running a game, these simulations try to immerse you
in a 3D environment and let you move around and interact
within it. The environment might be a space station,
a lunar colony or the surface of Mars.
Massively multiplayer on line (MMO) games
with near future space scenarios are in development,
some sponsored by space agencies.
Mars Sites ActiveWorld
is an online virtual reality universe that has grown
to involve hundreds of thousands of users with over
1000 unique worlds.
Included in this VR universe is a whole Mars world with
spaceports and colonies.
"Originally designed in 1997 as a demo project
for NASA, the virtual world Mars has been open for
colonization by Active Worlds' residents since 1998;
and is one of the more popular hang outs for adventurous
humans and extra-terrestrials alike." - Mars
"...virtual 3-D environment of a realistic space
city, allowing visitors to experience life in an orbital
city. As parts of the city are completed and tested,
they will be added to the virtual city. Likewise,
data bases available to visitors will be added as
they are compiled. The pace of development will be
determined by the level of success in raising the
necessary development capital. Space City is being
developed by a group of astronautical engineers with
many years of industry experience. They are determined
to make Space City One as accurate and detailed as
practical to provide a high-fidelity environment for
A "fully immersive, interactive, Virtual Reality
simulation of the Moon. It is a vivid and stunningly realistic
visual experience of being on the Moon"
Colony - ET puts you on an alien planet in full survival
mode. The game / simulation is a mini online 3D first
person style role playing game where you are a character
in a persistent world. The current state of the simulator
allows one person to set up a server and invite their
friends to join in the colony. We can have as many
as 32 players but most people would be comfortable
with 4 to 8 close friends.
The minark company creates 3-D virtual environments
that includes the Entropia
Universe on line virtual world. These include space
related features. The company has also carried out a
study for ESA that investigated the use of such virtual
world/game systems as space simulations for education.
See articles and video below:
"... Players can build and manage their own
3-D lunar colony, controlling all aspects of colony
life - from building colonies and creating industries,
to trading with Earth and alien races."...
"..includes a game tutorial, an open-ended "sandbox"
mode and 3 exciting campaigns with 30 challenging
missions. The game features more than 60 3-D buildings
including Spaceports, Lunar Golf, Military Bases,
Nuclear Power Reactors and much more - there's something
for everyone! Players can manage 4 customizable industries
(mining, manufacturing, research and tourism) to create
their own unique playing experience. 16 devastating
disasters keep players on their toes, including Asteroids,
Moonquakes, Meteor Showers, and much more!"...
The MOON Project - Benjamin
Unfortunately, this site disappeared from the net. The
ambitious project used VRML to provide a simulated experience
of lunar exploration:
"The MOON Project is a full-screen, immersive
mutual reality Internet DVD made on the event of the
30th Anniversary of Humankind's First Manned Moon
Landing. The purpose of the MOON project is to bring
viewers into personal contact with humanity’s cultural
tradition through participation in the exploration
of the Moon. As an historical source document and
as an artistic interpretation of cultural context,
the MOON project is made to connect viewers in our
collective global culture." - MOON project homepage.
"Vision Videogames's initial efforts have landed
it a Space Act Agreement contract with none other
than The National Aeronautic and Space Administration
(NASA) in a cooperative effort to develop its first
PS2 based video game. This game will create in millions
of young people a sense of ownership in the worldwide
effort to explore space and improve life on Earth...."
Multi-user, continuous online game and virtual world,
somewhat similar to ActiveWorld. Relies on an exotic "portal"
transportation system, but otherwise is a near-future
Massively multiplayer on line (MMO) games with near
future space scenarios are under development.
Moon, Mars and Beyond
Is a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game created
Hereos and Project
Whitecard in cooperation with NASA. It began in
the mid-2000s but as of 2011 was still incomplement.
In development by 2011. In August 2011 they opened
a Kickstarter campaign to raise money to move the
"Moonbase Alpha is a game scenario with both
single-player and multiplayer options set on a
hypothetical lunar outpost in a 3-D immersive
setting. Players step into the role of an exploration
crewmember and deal with realistic mission challenges
and choices. Timelines in the much anticipated
Astronaut: Moon, Mars and Beyond MMO will
be set even farther in the exciting future (2035+),
but you can already explore our own near-future
moon missions thanks to the NASA Learning Technologies
and Innovative Partnerships Programs."
Moonwalk - developed by In addition, Project Whitecard
is developing, this is "an exciting multiplayer, on-line
game and simulation that allows us to walk in the
footsteps of the Apollo Missions and beyond".