Space flight at home

Game-simulator Orbiter is a software allowing you to “survive” the real situation of space flight. Besides entertainment, it can be used to study physics, astronomy, and spaceflight.

We asked about Orbiter Philip Terekhova — popularizer of astronomy and space, of the top author Geektimes.

I became interested in astronomy and space in 2012, after seeing several thematic films on the Day of cosmonautics. This passion and many years of teaching experience has evolved into a desire to tell the whole world how interesting, beautiful and can be exciting world of space exploration. No need to work in the industry to be cheering on the success of the mission astronauts or unmanned probe, to admire the beauty of the space and think about space the future of humanity.

The simulator is serious business

June 1965. Into the space went the mission “Gemini 4” (commander James Mcdivitt, pilot ed white). One of its tasks was to rendezvous with the second stage of the rocket carrier, which brought the ship into orbit. The task was secondary, it didn’t worked out in advance and not considered particularly difficult.

However, the result of this experiment was unexpected. When the captain turned the ship around by the nose on the second step, she was about a hundred metres. Nebulisations forward engines orbital maneuvering — and, seemingly, it’s done. However, the first stage was removed, and then go down. The mcdivitt again gave the momentum forward. But the step retreated a kilometer, then gently approached, and when the ship came out of the Earth shadow, she was six kilometers, and for new attempts to rapprochement on fuel.

The astronauts were qualified specialists that are excellent pilots, but are unable to fly up to the goal, which was from them at a distance of only one hundred meters. Physics orbital flight was counterintuitive — contrary to the skills of flying an airplane and all earthly experience.

To solve this problem have been developed methodologies and simulation. Their use has yielded results in less than a year. In the mission “Gemini-8”, which went into space in March 1966, Armstrong (Yes, the same) and Scott successfully met in orbit, launched another rocket targeted, approached and docked with it. And the “Gemini 12”, denying the radar, are crucial for determining range and angular velocity of the target, Aldrin and Lowell were able to approach and dock, using a sextant — protractor tool by sailors since the 18th century.

Team “Gemini-12”. Image source: Wikipedia

Space for those who are on the Ground

The years have passed. Came personal computers, and for them have created games including space simulators. However, the physics behavior of the objects there was more like an aquarium than a space. The player’s ship could hang motionless, had a maximum speed limit and has slowed down when flying in a straight line. Needless to say, all this is absolutely impossible in real space.

In the late 90-ies of Martin Schweiger, a senior research fellow at the Department of computer science University College London, seeing this problem and wanting to find a way to talk about physics and orbital mechanics, decided to single-handedly create realistic computer simulator. November 27, 2000 released the first version of Orbiter. And for the past fifteen years, Martin is working on new versions, with more beautiful graphics and new improvements of the physical model. The latest version can be downloaded here .

Image source: orbit

Orbiter has always been free. Open architecture that allows you to create your spaceship, spaceport, or other object and add it into the game, led to the emergence of a large community. developed various add-ons for the simulator. Fifteen years of such additions was published very much, they free.

Start flight:

Downloaded the simulator .

Download the desired addon. Addons — add — ons- usually just unpack in a folder of the simulator.

If there are problems with the English language — translated into Russian manual and partially Russified program .

For starters, you can become just a spectator automatically playable scenarios. You can launch the first satellite to photograph the moon is a spacecraft “Luna-3”, to make it a soft landing unmanned (“Luna-9”) and manned (“Apollo-11”) range, without touching the controls. Even at this level of promotional and educational opportunities of the program are large. Do you know what problems arose during the flight Gagarin? But getting to the moon American lunar module? Orbiter is very clearly able to show it.

The ship “Vostok-1” after separation from the third stage

And this ship “Vostok-1” inside

The lunar module “Apollo 11” after landing on the moon

You can then manually perform a simple task — for example, to bring the satellite into geostationary orbit. Scary vague terms like “angle of inclination”, “periapsis” and “longitude of the ascending node” will be not just clear, familiar and understandable, Abitibi and acquaintances.

Now you can hardly remember what the geostationary orbit, but if you do get it on satellite, how can I forget this experience?

Multifunction displays with plenty of numbers only at first seem difficult

Geostationary orbit: the satellite “hangs” over one point on the Earth

Then the task can be complicated. For example, to fly to the ISS (on your own cones by understanding what “phase angle”) and to make a precise landing on the Ground (at the same time having dealt with “glide”). It is already possible to use competitive component — who will be able to spend less fuel and to land accurately?

And then — how much is enough interest and imagination. To fly to the moon, to Mars, to Jupiter, to sit in a virtual “Union” and go to the ISS and back in most realistic scenarios. By the way, interesting observation: if in the first couple of times it’s perceived as a very difficult task, eventually it becomes surprisingly familiar and even “home”. A unique experience. And the flight Mars — Earth? Pale blue dot becomes a ball, the ball quickly becomes huge, takes place in a plane, and you find yourself in another geometric Kingdom. There are not enough words to convey.

Flies to the Ground. Her 42 km

Coming in for a landing

Docking of “Soyuz” with the ISS

Despite the fact that the last stable version came out in 2010, Martin continues. The new version is expected to fair the surface topography and vastly improved graphics.

Over the years, the Orbiter has been widely used in various industries. The European space Agency has added a video of the simulator in their promotional videos. Orbiter is used in schools for teaching physics. Ufa space school “Big space travel” through the virtual Orbiter is designing ships and flying them .

This year in the framework of the international festival “Jureva night” enthusiasts using the Orbiter illustrated the flight of Yuri Gagarin. The idea was to combine the simulator, namely a specially crafted script of flight of the ship “Vostok-1” and the experimental film “First Orbit”. The video is a shooting from the ISS, made in conditions as close to those of the Gagarin flying over roughly the same places and roughly the same lighting conditions. In a sound track instrumental music is used and the Record of negotiations of Gagarin in real flight. Here’s the film:

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