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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the laws of physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and do not take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the spacecraft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it is common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see Simulation cockpit).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous, was released on 16 December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (19902007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space”, it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry”, as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X series (19992016)[12] and Eve Online.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (7016180000000000000181015 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky, were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (20052015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

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A SpaceX Dragon capsule is wrapping up a month-long mission Saturday. The spaceship departed the International Space Station at 9:23 a.m. EDT (1323 GMT), and splashed down in the Pacific Ocean at approximately 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) with nearly two tons of experiment specimens and hardware, including a habitat of mice and Robonaut 2, an experimental humanoid robot in need of repairs.

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Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is a major NASA space research laboratory located approximately 6.5 miles (10.5km) northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, United States. Established on May 1, 1959 as NASA’s first space flight center, GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors. It is one of ten major NASA field centers, named in recognition of American rocket propulsion pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard.

GSFC is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC conducts scientific investigation, development and operation of space systems, and development of related technologies. Goddard scientists can develop and support a mission, and Goddard engineers and technicians can design and build the spacecraft for that mission. Goddard scientist John C. Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on COBE.

GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the Space Network and the Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Explorer program, the Discovery Program, the Earth Observing System (EOS), INTEGRAL, MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC,[citation needed] while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.[citation needed]

Goddard is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication, planning, scientific research, technical operations, and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, Maryland was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Dr. Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System.[1] The Center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

Goddard’s partly wooded campus is a few miles northeast of Washington, D.C. in Prince George’s County. The center is on Greenbelt Road, which is Maryland Route 193. Baltimore, Annapolis, and NASA Headquarters in Washington are 3045 minutes away by highway. Greenbelt also has a train station with access to the Washington Metro system and the MARC commuter train’s Camden line.

The High Bay Cleanroom located in building 29 is the world’s largest ISO 7 cleanroom with 1.3 million cubic feet of space.[2] Vacuum chambers in adjacent buildings 10 and 7 can be chilled or heated to +/- 200C (392F). Adjacent building 15 houses the High Capacity Centrifuge which is capable of generating 30 G on up to a 2.5 tons load.[3]

Parsons Corporation assisted in the construction of the Class 10,000 cleanroom to support Hubble Space Telescope as well as other Goddard missions.[4]

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is NASA’s designated center for the archiving and dissemination of high energy astronomy data and information. Information on X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and related NASA mission archives are maintained for public information and science access.[5]

The Software Assurance Technology Center (SATC) is a NASA department founded in 1992 as part of their Systems Reliability and Safety Office at Goddard Space Flight Center. Its purpose was “to become a center of excellence in software assurance, dedicated to making measurable improvement in both the quality and reliability of software developed for NASA at GSFC”. The Center has been the source of research papers on software metrics, assurance, and risk management.[6]

The Goddard Visitor Center is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, free of charge, and features displays of spacecraft and technologies developed there. The Hubble Space Telescope is represented by models and deep space imagery from recent missions. The center also features a Science On a Sphere projection system.

The center also features an Educator’s Resource Center available for use by teachers and education volunteers such as Boy and Girl Scout leaders; and hosts special events during the year. As an example, in September 2008 the Center opened its gates for Goddard LaunchFest (see Goddard LaunchFest Site). The event, free to the public, included; robot competitions, tours of Goddard facilities hosted by NASA employees, and live entertainment on the Goddard grounds.

GSFC operates three facilities that are not located at the Greenbelt site. These facilities are:

GSFC is also responsible for the White Sands Complex, a set of two sites in Las Cruces, NM, but the site is owned by Johnson Space Center as part of the White Sands Test Facility.

Goddard Space Flight Center has a workforce of over 3,000 civil servant employees, 60% of which are engineers and scientists.[7] There are approximately 7,000 supporting contractors on site every day. It is one of the largest concentrations of the world’s premier space scientists and engineers. The Center is organized into 8 directorates, which includes Applied Engineering and Technology, Flight Projects, Science and Exploration, and Safety & Mission Assurance.[8]

Co-op students from universities in all 50 States can be found around the campus every season through the Cooperative Education Program.[9] During the summers, programs such as the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA) and Excellence through Challenging Exploration and Leadership (EXCEL) provide internship opportunities to students from the US and territories such as Puerto Rico to learn and partake in challenging scientific and engineering work.

A fact sheet highlighting many of Goddard’s previous missions are recorded on a 40th anniversary webpage [10]

Goddard has been involved in designing, building, and operating spacecraft since the days of Explorer 1, the nation’s first artificial satellite. The list of these missions reflects a diverse set of scientific objectives and goals. The Landsat series of spacecraft has been studying the Earth’s resources since the launch of the first mission in 1972. TIROS-1 launched in 1960 as the first success in a long series of weather satellites. The Spartan platform deployed from the space shuttle, allowing simple, low-cost 2-3 day missions. The second of NASA’s Great Observatories, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, operated for nine years before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2000. Another of Goddard’s space science observatories, the Cosmic Background Explorer, provided unique scientific data about the early universe.[11]

Goddard currently supports the operation of dozens of spacecraft collecting scientific data. These missions include earth science projects like the Earth Observing System (EOS) that includes the Terra, Aqua, and Aura spacecraft flying alongside several projects from other Centers or other countries. Other major Earth science projects that are currently operating include the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), missions that provide data critical to hurricane predictions. Many Goddard projects support other organizations, such as the US Geological Survey on Landsat-7 and -8, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system that provide weather predictions.

Other Goddard missions support a variety of space science disciplines. Goddard’s most famous project is the Hubble Space Telescope, a unique science platform that has been breaking new ground in astronomy for nearly 20 years. Other missions such as the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) study the structure and evolution of the universe. Other missions such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are currently studying the Sun and how its behavior affects life on the Earth. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is mapping out the composition and topography of the moon and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is tracking the sun’s energy and influence on the Earth.

The Goddard community continually works on numerous operations and projects that have launch dates ranging from the upcoming year to a decade down the road. These operations also vary in what scientists hope they will uncover.

Particularly noteworthy operations include: the James Webb Space Telescope which will try to study the history of the universe.[12]

Addressing Scientific Questions

NASA’s missions (and therefore Goddard’s missions) address a broad range of scientific questions generally classified around four key areas: Earth sciences, astrophysics, heliophysics, and the solar system.[13] To simplify, Goddard studies Earth and Space.[14]

Within the Earth sciences area, Goddard plays a major role in research to advance our understanding of the Earth as an environmental system, looking at questions related to how the components of that environmental system have developed, how they interact and how they evolve. This is all important to enable scientists to understand the practical impacts of natural and human activities during the coming decades and centuries.

Within Space Sciences, Goddard has distinguished itself with the 2006 Nobel Physics Prize given to John Mather and the COBE mission. Beyond the COBE mission, Goddard studies how the universe formed, what it is made of, how its components interact, and how it evolves. The Center also contributes to research seeking to understand how stars and planetary systems form and evolve and studies the nature of the Sun’s interaction with its surroundings.

From Scientific Questions to Science Missions

Based on existing knowledge accumulated through previous missions, new science questions are articulated. Missions are developed in the same way an experiment would be developed using the scientific method. In this context, Goddard does not work as an independent entity but rather as one of the 10 NASA centers working together to find answers to these scientific questions.

Each mission starts with a set of scientific questions to be answered, a set of scientific requirements for the mission, which build on what has already been discovered by prior missions. Scientific requirements spell out the types data that will need to be collected. These scientific requirements are then transformed into mission concepts that start to specify the kind of spacecraft and scientific instruments need to be developed for these scientific questions to be answered.

Within Goddard, the Sciences and Exploration Directorate (SED) leads the center’s scientific endeavors, including the development of technology related to scientific pursuits.

Collecting Data in Space Scientific Instruments

Some of the most important technological advances developed by Goddard (and NASA in general) come from the need to innovate with new scientific instruments in order to be able to observe or measure phenomena in space that have never been measured or observed before. Instrument names tend to be known by their initials. In some cases, the mission’s name gives an indication of the type of instrument involved. For example, the James Webb Space Telescope is, as its name indicates, a telescope, but it includes a suite of four distinct scientific instruments: Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI); Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam); Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec); Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS).[15] Scientists at Goddard work closely with the engineers to develop these instruments.

Typically, a mission consists of a spacecraft with an instrument suite (multiple instruments) on board. In some cases, the scientific requirements dictate the need for multiple spacecraft. For example, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) studies magnetic reconnection, a 3-D process. In order to capture data about this complex 3-D process, a set of four spacecraft fly in a tetrahedral formation. Each of the four spacecraft carries identical instrument suites. MMS is part of a larger program (Solar Terrestrial Probes) that studies the impact of the sun on the solar system.

Goddard’s Scientific Collaborations

In many cases, Goddard works with partners (US Government agencies, aerospace industry, university-based research centers, other countries) that are responsible for developing the scientific instruments. In other cases, Goddard develops one or more of the instruments. The individual instruments are then integrated into an instrument suite which is then integrated with the spacecraft. In the case of MMS, for example, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was responsible for developing the scientific instruments and Goddard provides overall project management, mission systems engineering, the spacecraft, and mission operations.[16]

On the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), six instruments have been developed by a range of partners. One of the instruments, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), was developed by Goddard. LOLA measures landing site slopes and lunar surface roughness in order to generate a 3-D map of the moon.[17]

Another mission to be managed by Goddard is MAVEN. MAVEN is the second mission within the Mars Scout Program that is exploring the atmosphere of Mars in support of NASA’s broader efforts to go to Mars. MAVEN carries eight instruments to measure characteristics of Mars’ atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, solar wind, and ionosphere. Instrument development partners include the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of California, Berkeley. Goddard contributed overall project management as well as two of the instruments, two magnetometers.

Managing Scientific Data

Once a mission is launched and reaches its destination, its instruments start collecting data. The data is transmitted back to earth where it needs to be analyzed and stored for future reference. Goddard manages large collections of scientific data resulting from past and ongoing missions.

The Earth Science Division hosts the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Division (GES DISC).[18] It offers Earth science data, information, and services to research scientists, applications scientists, applications users, and students.

The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), created at Goddard in 1966, hosts a permanent archive of space science data, including a large collection of images from space.

Section 102(d) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 calls for “the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.”[19] Because of this mandate, the Technology Utilization Program was established in 1962 which required technologies to be brought down to Earth and commercialized in order to help the US economy and improve the quality of life.[20]

Documentation of these technologies that were spun off started in 1976 with “Spinoff 1976”.[21] Since then, NASA has produced a yearly publication of these “spinoff technologies” through the Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

Goddard Space Flight Center has made significant contributions to the US economy and quality of life with the technologies it has spun off. Here are some examples: Weather balloon technology has helped firefighters with its short-range radios; aluminized Mylar in satellites has made sports equipment more insulated; laser optics systems have transformed the camera industry and life detection missions on other planets help scientists find bacteria in contaminated food.[22]

The Goddard Space Flight Center maintains ties with local area communities through external volunteer and educational programs. Employees are encouraged to take part in mentoring programs and take on speaking roles at area schools. On Center, Goddard hosts regular colloquiums in engineering, leadership and science. These events are open to the general public, but attendees must sign up in advance to procure a visitors pass for access to the Center’s main grounds. Passes can be obtained at the security office main gate on Greenbelt Road.

Goddard also hosts several different internship opportunities, including NASA DEVELOP at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Goddard Space Flight Center on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. The tour of Goddard was near the end of the queen’s visit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia. The queen spoke with crew aboard the International Space Station.[23]

Coordinates: 385949N 765054W / 38.99694N 76.84833W / 38.99694; -76.84833

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Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is a major NASA space research laboratory located approximately 6.5 miles (10.5km) northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, United States. Established on May 1, 1959 as NASA’s first space flight center, GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors. It is one of ten major NASA field centers, named in recognition of American rocket propulsion pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard.

GSFC is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC conducts scientific investigation, development and operation of space systems, and development of related technologies. Goddard scientists can develop and support a mission, and Goddard engineers and technicians can design and build the spacecraft for that mission. Goddard scientist John C. Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on COBE.

GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the Space Network and the Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Explorer program, the Discovery Program, the Earth Observing System (EOS), INTEGRAL, MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC,[citation needed] while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.[citation needed]

Goddard is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication, planning, scientific research, technical operations, and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, Maryland was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Dr. Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System.[1] The Center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

Goddard’s partly wooded campus is a few miles northeast of Washington, D.C. in Prince George’s County. The center is on Greenbelt Road, which is Maryland Route 193. Baltimore, Annapolis, and NASA Headquarters in Washington are 3045 minutes away by highway. Greenbelt also has a train station with access to the Washington Metro system and the MARC commuter train’s Camden line.

The High Bay Cleanroom located in building 29 is the world’s largest ISO 7 cleanroom with 1.3 million cubic feet of space.[2] Vacuum chambers in adjacent buildings 10 and 7 can be chilled or heated to +/- 200C (392F). Adjacent building 15 houses the High Capacity Centrifuge which is capable of generating 30 G on up to a 2.5 tons load.[3]

Parsons Corporation assisted in the construction of the Class 10,000 cleanroom to support Hubble Space Telescope as well as other Goddard missions.[4]

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is NASA’s designated center for the archiving and dissemination of high energy astronomy data and information. Information on X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and related NASA mission archives are maintained for public information and science access.[5]

The Software Assurance Technology Center (SATC) is a NASA department founded in 1992 as part of their Systems Reliability and Safety Office at Goddard Space Flight Center. Its purpose was “to become a center of excellence in software assurance, dedicated to making measurable improvement in both the quality and reliability of software developed for NASA at GSFC”. The Center has been the source of research papers on software metrics, assurance, and risk management.[6]

The Goddard Visitor Center is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, free of charge, and features displays of spacecraft and technologies developed there. The Hubble Space Telescope is represented by models and deep space imagery from recent missions. The center also features a Science On a Sphere projection system.

The center also features an Educator’s Resource Center available for use by teachers and education volunteers such as Boy and Girl Scout leaders; and hosts special events during the year. As an example, in September 2008 the Center opened its gates for Goddard LaunchFest (see Goddard LaunchFest Site). The event, free to the public, included; robot competitions, tours of Goddard facilities hosted by NASA employees, and live entertainment on the Goddard grounds.

GSFC operates three facilities that are not located at the Greenbelt site. These facilities are:

GSFC is also responsible for the White Sands Complex, a set of two sites in Las Cruces, NM, but the site is owned by Johnson Space Center as part of the White Sands Test Facility.

Goddard Space Flight Center has a workforce of over 3,000 civil servant employees, 60% of which are engineers and scientists.[7] There are approximately 7,000 supporting contractors on site every day. It is one of the largest concentrations of the world’s premier space scientists and engineers. The Center is organized into 8 directorates, which includes Applied Engineering and Technology, Flight Projects, Science and Exploration, and Safety & Mission Assurance.[8]

Co-op students from universities in all 50 States can be found around the campus every season through the Cooperative Education Program.[9] During the summers, programs such as the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA) and Excellence through Challenging Exploration and Leadership (EXCEL) provide internship opportunities to students from the US and territories such as Puerto Rico to learn and partake in challenging scientific and engineering work.

A fact sheet highlighting many of Goddard’s previous missions are recorded on a 40th anniversary webpage [10]

Goddard has been involved in designing, building, and operating spacecraft since the days of Explorer 1, the nation’s first artificial satellite. The list of these missions reflects a diverse set of scientific objectives and goals. The Landsat series of spacecraft has been studying the Earth’s resources since the launch of the first mission in 1972. TIROS-1 launched in 1960 as the first success in a long series of weather satellites. The Spartan platform deployed from the space shuttle, allowing simple, low-cost 2-3 day missions. The second of NASA’s Great Observatories, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, operated for nine years before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2000. Another of Goddard’s space science observatories, the Cosmic Background Explorer, provided unique scientific data about the early universe.[11]

Goddard currently supports the operation of dozens of spacecraft collecting scientific data. These missions include earth science projects like the Earth Observing System (EOS) that includes the Terra, Aqua, and Aura spacecraft flying alongside several projects from other Centers or other countries. Other major Earth science projects that are currently operating include the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), missions that provide data critical to hurricane predictions. Many Goddard projects support other organizations, such as the US Geological Survey on Landsat-7 and -8, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system that provide weather predictions.

Other Goddard missions support a variety of space science disciplines. Goddard’s most famous project is the Hubble Space Telescope, a unique science platform that has been breaking new ground in astronomy for nearly 20 years. Other missions such as the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) study the structure and evolution of the universe. Other missions such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are currently studying the Sun and how its behavior affects life on the Earth. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is mapping out the composition and topography of the moon and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is tracking the sun’s energy and influence on the Earth.

The Goddard community continually works on numerous operations and projects that have launch dates ranging from the upcoming year to a decade down the road. These operations also vary in what scientists hope they will uncover.

Particularly noteworthy operations include: the James Webb Space Telescope which will try to study the history of the universe.[12]

Addressing Scientific Questions

NASA’s missions (and therefore Goddard’s missions) address a broad range of scientific questions generally classified around four key areas: Earth sciences, astrophysics, heliophysics, and the solar system.[13] To simplify, Goddard studies Earth and Space.[14]

Within the Earth sciences area, Goddard plays a major role in research to advance our understanding of the Earth as an environmental system, looking at questions related to how the components of that environmental system have developed, how they interact and how they evolve. This is all important to enable scientists to understand the practical impacts of natural and human activities during the coming decades and centuries.

Within Space Sciences, Goddard has distinguished itself with the 2006 Nobel Physics Prize given to John Mather and the COBE mission. Beyond the COBE mission, Goddard studies how the universe formed, what it is made of, how its components interact, and how it evolves. The Center also contributes to research seeking to understand how stars and planetary systems form and evolve and studies the nature of the Sun’s interaction with its surroundings.

From Scientific Questions to Science Missions

Based on existing knowledge accumulated through previous missions, new science questions are articulated. Missions are developed in the same way an experiment would be developed using the scientific method. In this context, Goddard does not work as an independent entity but rather as one of the 10 NASA centers working together to find answers to these scientific questions.

Each mission starts with a set of scientific questions to be answered, a set of scientific requirements for the mission, which build on what has already been discovered by prior missions. Scientific requirements spell out the types data that will need to be collected. These scientific requirements are then transformed into mission concepts that start to specify the kind of spacecraft and scientific instruments need to be developed for these scientific questions to be answered.

Within Goddard, the Sciences and Exploration Directorate (SED) leads the center’s scientific endeavors, including the development of technology related to scientific pursuits.

Collecting Data in Space Scientific Instruments

Some of the most important technological advances developed by Goddard (and NASA in general) come from the need to innovate with new scientific instruments in order to be able to observe or measure phenomena in space that have never been measured or observed before. Instrument names tend to be known by their initials. In some cases, the mission’s name gives an indication of the type of instrument involved. For example, the James Webb Space Telescope is, as its name indicates, a telescope, but it includes a suite of four distinct scientific instruments: Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI); Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam); Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec); Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS).[15] Scientists at Goddard work closely with the engineers to develop these instruments.

Typically, a mission consists of a spacecraft with an instrument suite (multiple instruments) on board. In some cases, the scientific requirements dictate the need for multiple spacecraft. For example, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) studies magnetic reconnection, a 3-D process. In order to capture data about this complex 3-D process, a set of four spacecraft fly in a tetrahedral formation. Each of the four spacecraft carries identical instrument suites. MMS is part of a larger program (Solar Terrestrial Probes) that studies the impact of the sun on the solar system.

Goddard’s Scientific Collaborations

In many cases, Goddard works with partners (US Government agencies, aerospace industry, university-based research centers, other countries) that are responsible for developing the scientific instruments. In other cases, Goddard develops one or more of the instruments. The individual instruments are then integrated into an instrument suite which is then integrated with the spacecraft. In the case of MMS, for example, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was responsible for developing the scientific instruments and Goddard provides overall project management, mission systems engineering, the spacecraft, and mission operations.[16]

On the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), six instruments have been developed by a range of partners. One of the instruments, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), was developed by Goddard. LOLA measures landing site slopes and lunar surface roughness in order to generate a 3-D map of the moon.[17]

Another mission to be managed by Goddard is MAVEN. MAVEN is the second mission within the Mars Scout Program that is exploring the atmosphere of Mars in support of NASA’s broader efforts to go to Mars. MAVEN carries eight instruments to measure characteristics of Mars’ atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, solar wind, and ionosphere. Instrument development partners include the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of California, Berkeley. Goddard contributed overall project management as well as two of the instruments, two magnetometers.

Managing Scientific Data

Once a mission is launched and reaches its destination, its instruments start collecting data. The data is transmitted back to earth where it needs to be analyzed and stored for future reference. Goddard manages large collections of scientific data resulting from past and ongoing missions.

The Earth Science Division hosts the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Division (GES DISC).[18] It offers Earth science data, information, and services to research scientists, applications scientists, applications users, and students.

The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), created at Goddard in 1966, hosts a permanent archive of space science data, including a large collection of images from space.

Section 102(d) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 calls for “the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.”[19] Because of this mandate, the Technology Utilization Program was established in 1962 which required technologies to be brought down to Earth and commercialized in order to help the US economy and improve the quality of life.[20]

Documentation of these technologies that were spun off started in 1976 with “Spinoff 1976”.[21] Since then, NASA has produced a yearly publication of these “spinoff technologies” through the Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

Goddard Space Flight Center has made significant contributions to the US economy and quality of life with the technologies it has spun off. Here are some examples: Weather balloon technology has helped firefighters with its short-range radios; aluminized Mylar in satellites has made sports equipment more insulated; laser optics systems have transformed the camera industry and life detection missions on other planets help scientists find bacteria in contaminated food.[22]

The Goddard Space Flight Center maintains ties with local area communities through external volunteer and educational programs. Employees are encouraged to take part in mentoring programs and take on speaking roles at area schools. On Center, Goddard hosts regular colloquiums in engineering, leadership and science. These events are open to the general public, but attendees must sign up in advance to procure a visitors pass for access to the Center’s main grounds. Passes can be obtained at the security office main gate on Greenbelt Road.

Goddard also hosts several different internship opportunities, including NASA DEVELOP at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Goddard Space Flight Center on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. The tour of Goddard was near the end of the queen’s visit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia. The queen spoke with crew aboard the International Space Station.[23]

Coordinates: 385949N 765054W / 38.99694N 76.84833W / 38.99694; -76.84833

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Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Aboard a specially modified Boeing 727-200, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G passengers experience true weightlessness.

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONEflies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is pushed over to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.

In addition to achieving zero gravity, G-FORCE ONEalso flies a parabola designed to offer Lunar gravity (one sixth your weight)and Martian gravity (one third your weight). This is created by flying a larger arc over the top of the parabola.

G-FORCE ONEflies in a FAA designated airspace that is approximately 100 miles long and ten miles wide. Usually three to five parabolas are flown consecutively with short periods of level flight between each set.

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the laws of physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and do not take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the spacecraft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it is common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see Simulation cockpit).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous, was released on 16 December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (19902007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space”, it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry”, as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X series (19992016)[12] and Eve Online.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (7016180000000000000181015 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky, were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (20052015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

The Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC) is a major NASA space research laboratory located approximately 6.5 miles (10.5km) northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, United States. Established on May 1, 1959 as NASA’s first space flight center, GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors. It is one of ten major NASA field centers, named in recognition of American rocket propulsion pioneer Dr. Robert H. Goddard.

GSFC is the largest combined organization of scientists and engineers in the United States dedicated to increasing knowledge of the Earth, the Solar System, and the Universe via observations from space. GSFC is a major U.S. laboratory for developing and operating unmanned scientific spacecraft. GSFC conducts scientific investigation, development and operation of space systems, and development of related technologies. Goddard scientists can develop and support a mission, and Goddard engineers and technicians can design and build the spacecraft for that mission. Goddard scientist John C. Mather shared the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work on COBE.

GSFC also operates two spaceflight tracking and data acquisition networks (the Space Network and the Near Earth Network), develops and maintains advanced space and Earth science data information systems, and develops satellite systems for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

GSFC manages operations for many NASA and international missions including the Hubble Space Telescope (HST), the Explorer program, the Discovery Program, the Earth Observing System (EOS), INTEGRAL, MAVEN, OSIRIS-REx, the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO), the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO), and Swift. Past missions managed by GSFC include the Rossi X-ray Timing Explorer (RXTE), Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, SMM, COBE, IUE, and ROSAT. Typically, unmanned earth observation missions and observatories in Earth orbit are managed by GSFC,[citation needed] while unmanned planetary missions are managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California.[citation needed]

Goddard is NASA’s first, and oldest, space center. Its original charter was to perform five major functions on behalf of NASA: technology development and fabrication, planning, scientific research, technical operations, and project management. The center is organized into several directorates, each charged with one of these key functions.

Until May 1, 1959, NASA’s presence in Greenbelt, Maryland was known as the Beltsville Space Center. It was then renamed the Goddard Space Flight Center (GSFC), after Dr. Robert H. Goddard. Its first 157 employees transferred from the United States Navy’s Project Vanguard missile program, but continued their work at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., while the center was under construction.

Goddard Space Flight Center contributed to Project Mercury, America’s first manned space flight program. The Center assumed a lead role for the project in its early days and managed the first 250 employees involved in the effort, who were stationed at Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. However, the size and scope of Project Mercury soon prompted NASA to build a new Manned Spacecraft Center, now the Johnson Space Center, in Houston, Texas. Project Mercury’s personnel and activities were transferred there in 1961.

Goddard Space Flight Center remained involved in the manned space flight program, providing computer support and radar tracking of flights through a worldwide network of ground stations called the Spacecraft Tracking and Data Acquisition Network (STDN). However, the Center focused primarily on designing unmanned satellites and spacecraft for scientific research missions. Goddard pioneered several fields of spacecraft development, including modular spacecraft design, which reduced costs and made it possible to repair satellites in orbit. Goddard’s Solar Max satellite, launched in 1980, was repaired by astronauts on the Space Shuttle Challenger in 1984. The Hubble Space Telescope, launched in 1990, remains in service and continues to grow in capability thanks to its modular design and multiple servicing missions by the Space Shuttle.

Today, the center remains involved in each of NASA’s key programs. Goddard has developed more instruments for planetary exploration than any other organization, among them scientific instruments sent to every planet in the Solar System.[1] The Center’s contribution to the Earth Science Enterprise includes several spacecraft in the Earth Observing System fleet as well as EOSDIS, a science data collection, processing, and distribution system. For the manned space flight program, Goddard develops tools for use by astronauts during extra-vehicular activity, and operates the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, a spacecraft designed to study the Moon in preparation for future manned exploration.

Goddard’s partly wooded campus is a few miles northeast of Washington, D.C. in Prince George’s County. The center is on Greenbelt Road, which is Maryland Route 193. Baltimore, Annapolis, and NASA Headquarters in Washington are 3045 minutes away by highway. Greenbelt also has a train station with access to the Washington Metro system and the MARC commuter train’s Camden line.

The High Bay Cleanroom located in building 29 is the world’s largest ISO 7 cleanroom with 1.3 million cubic feet of space.[2] Vacuum chambers in adjacent buildings 10 and 7 can be chilled or heated to +/- 200C (392F). Adjacent building 15 houses the High Capacity Centrifuge which is capable of generating 30 G on up to a 2.5 tons load.[3]

The High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC) is NASA’s designated center for the archiving and dissemination of high energy astronomy data and information. Information on X-ray and gamma-ray astronomy and related NASA mission archives are maintained for public information and science access.[4]

The Software Assurance Technology Center (SATC) is a NASA department founded in 1992 as part of their Systems Reliability and Safety Office at Goddard Space Flight Center. Its purpose was “to become a center of excellence in software assurance, dedicated to making measurable improvement in both the quality and reliability of software developed for NASA at GSFC”. The Center has been the source of research papers on software metrics, assurance, and risk management.[5]

The Goddard Visitor Center is open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, free of charge, and features displays of spacecraft and technologies developed there. The Hubble Space Telescope is represented by models and deep space imagery from recent missions. The center also features a Science On a Sphere projection system.

The center also features an Educator’s Resource Center available for use by teachers and education volunteers such as Boy and Girl Scout leaders; and hosts special events during the year. As an example, in September 2008 the Center opened its gates for Goddard LaunchFest (see Goddard LaunchFest Site). The event, free to the public, included; robot competitions, tours of Goddard facilities hosted by NASA employees, and live entertainment on the Goddard grounds.

GSFC operates three facilities that are not located at the Greenbelt site. These facilities are:

GSFC is also responsible for the White Sands Complex, a set of two sites in Las Cruces, NM, but the site is owned by Johnson Space Center as part of the White Sands Test Facility.

Goddard Space Flight Center has a workforce of over 3,000 civil servant employees, 60% of which are engineers and scientists.[6] There are approximately 7,000 supporting contractors on site every day. It is one of the largest concentrations of the world’s premier space scientists and engineers. The Center is organized into 8 directorates, which includes Applied Engineering and Technology, Flight Projects, Science and Exploration, and Safety & Mission Assurance.[7]

Co-op students from universities in all 50 States can be found around the campus every season through the Cooperative Education Program.[8] During the summers, programs such as the Summer Institute in Engineering and Computer Applications (SIECA) and Excellence through Challenging Exploration and Leadership (EXCEL) provide internship opportunities to students from the US and territories such as Puerto Rico to learn and partake in challenging scientific and engineering work.

A fact sheet highlighting many of Goddard’s previous missions are recorded on a 40th anniversary webpage [9]

Goddard has been involved in designing, building, and operating spacecraft since the days of Explorer 1, the nation’s first artificial satellite. The list of these missions reflects a diverse set of scientific objectives and goals. The Landsat series of spacecraft has been studying the Earth’s resources since the launch of the first mission in 1972. TIROS-1 launched in 1960 as the first success in a long series of weather satellites. The Spartan platform deployed from the space shuttle, allowing simple, low-cost 2-3 day missions. The second of NASA’s Great Observatories, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, operated for nine years before re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere in 2000. Another of Goddard’s space science observatories, the Cosmic Background Explorer, provided unique scientific data about the early universe.[10]

Goddard currently supports the operation of dozens of spacecraft collecting scientific data. These missions include earth science projects like the Earth Observing System (EOS) that includes the Terra, Aqua, and Aura spacecraft flying alongside several projects from other Centers or other countries. Other major Earth science projects that are currently operating include the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission (TRMM) and the Global Precipitation Measurement mission (GPM), missions that provide data critical to hurricane predictions. Many Goddard projects support other organizations, such as the US Geological Survey on Landsat-7 and -8, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on the Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) system that provide weather predictions.

Other Goddard missions support a variety of space science disciplines. Goddard’s most famous project is the Hubble Space Telescope, a unique science platform that has been breaking new ground in astronomy for nearly 20 years. Other missions such as the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) study the structure and evolution of the universe. Other missions such as the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) are currently studying the Sun and how its behavior affects life on the Earth. The Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) is mapping out the composition and topography of the moon and the Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) is tracking the sun’s energy and influence on the Earth.

The Goddard community continually works on numerous operations and projects that have launch dates ranging from the upcoming year to a decade down the road. These operations also vary in what scientists hope they will uncover.

Particularly noteworthy operations include: the James Webb Space Telescope which will try to study the history of the universe.[11]

Addressing Scientific Questions

NASA’s missions (and therefore Goddard’s missions) address a broad range of scientific questions generally classified around four key areas: Earth sciences, astrophysics, heliophysics, and the solar system.[12] To simplify, Goddard studies Earth and Space.[13]

Within the Earth sciences area, Goddard plays a major role in research to advance our understanding of the Earth as an environmental system, looking at questions related to how the components of that environmental system have developed, how they interact and how they evolve. This is all important to enable scientists to understand the practical impacts of natural and human activities during the coming decades and centuries.

Within Space Sciences, Goddard has distinguished itself with the 2006 Nobel Physics Prize given to John Mather and the COBE mission. Beyond the COBE mission, Goddard studies how the universe formed, what it is made of, how its components interact, and how it evolves. The Center also contributes to research seeking to understand how stars and planetary systems form and evolve and studies the nature of the Sun’s interaction with its surroundings.

From Scientific Questions to Science Missions

Based on existing knowledge accumulated through previous missions, new science questions are articulated. Missions are developed in the same way an experiment would be developed using the scientific method. In this context, Goddard does not work as an independent entity but rather as one of the 10 NASA centers working together to find answers to these scientific questions.

Each mission starts with a set of scientific questions to be answered, a set of scientific requirements for the mission, which build on what has already been discovered by prior missions. Scientific requirements spell out the types data that will need to be collected. These scientific requirements are then transformed into mission concepts that start to specify the kind of spacecraft and scientific instruments need to be developed for these scientific questions to be answered.

Within Goddard, the Sciences and Exploration Directorate (SED) leads the center’s scientific endeavors, including the development of technology related to scientific pursuits.

Collecting Data in Space Scientific Instruments

Some of the most important technological advances developed by Goddard (and NASA in general) come from the need to innovate with new scientific instruments in order to be able to observe or measure phenomena in space that have never been measured or observed before. Instrument names tend to be known by their initials. In some cases, the mission’s name gives an indication of the type of instrument involved. For example, the James Webb Space Telescope is, as its name indicates, a telescope, but it includes a suite of four distinct scientific instruments: Mid-Infrared Instrument (MIRI); Near-Infrared Camera (NIRCam); Near-Infrared Spectrograph (NIRSpec); Fine Guidance Sensor/Near-Infrared Imager and Slitless Spectrograph (FGS-NIRISS).[14] Scientists at Goddard work closely with the engineers to develop these instruments.

Typically, a mission consists of a spacecraft with an instrument suite (multiple instruments) on board. In some cases, the scientific requirements dictate the need for multiple spacecraft. For example, the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission (MMS) studies magnetic reconnection, a 3-D process. In order to capture data about this complex 3-D process, a set of four spacecraft fly in a tetrahedral formation. Each of the four spacecraft carries identical instrument suites. MMS is part of a larger program (Solar Terrestrial Probes) that studies the impact of the sun on the solar system.

Goddard’s Scientific Collaborations

In many cases, Goddard works with partners (US Government agencies, aerospace industry, university-based research centers, other countries) that are responsible for developing the scientific instruments. In other cases, Goddard develops one or more of the instruments. The individual instruments are then integrated into an instrument suite which is then integrated with the spacecraft. In the case of MMS, for example, Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) was responsible for developing the scientific instruments and Goddard provides overall project management, mission systems engineering, the spacecraft, and mission operations.[15]

On the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO), six instruments have been developed by a range of partners. One of the instruments, the Lunar Orbiter Laser Altimeter (LOLA), was developed by Goddard. LOLA measures landing site slopes and lunar surface roughness in order to generate a 3-D map of the moon.[16]

Another mission to be managed by Goddard is MAVEN. MAVEN is the second mission within the Mars Scout Program that is exploring the atmosphere of Mars in support of NASA’s broader efforts to go to Mars. MAVEN carries eight instruments to measure characteristics of Mars’ atmospheric gases, upper atmosphere, solar wind, and ionosphere. Instrument development partners include the University of Colorado at Boulder, and the University of California, Berkeley. Goddard contributed overall project management as well as two of the instruments, two magnetometers.

Managing Scientific Data

Once a mission is launched and reaches its destination, its instruments start collecting data. The data is transmitted back to earth where it needs to be analyzed and stored for future reference. Goddard manages large collections of scientific data resulting from past and ongoing missions.

The Earth Science Division hosts the Goddard Earth Science Data and Information Services Division (GES DISC).[17] It offers Earth science data, information, and services to research scientists, applications scientists, applications users, and students.

The National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC), created at Goddard in 1966, hosts a permanent archive of space science data, including a large collection of images from space.

Section 102(d) of the National Aeronautics and Space Act of 1958 calls for “the establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from, the opportunities for, and the problems involved in the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes.”[18] Because of this mandate, the Technology Utilization Program was established in 1962 which required technologies to be brought down to Earth and commercialized in order to help the US economy and improve the quality of life.[19]

Documentation of these technologies that were spun off started in 1976 with “Spinoff 1976”.[20] Since then, NASA has produced a yearly publication of these “spinoff technologies” through the Innovative Partnerships Program Office.

Goddard Space Flight Center has made significant contributions to the US economy and quality of life with the technologies it has spun off. Here are some examples: Weather balloon technology has helped firefighters with its short-range radios; aluminized Mylar in satellites has made sports equipment more insulated; laser optics systems have transformed the camera industry and life detection missions on other planets help scientists find bacteria in contaminated food.[21]

The Goddard Space Flight Center maintains ties with local area communities through external volunteer and educational programs. Employees are encouraged to take part in mentoring programs and take on speaking roles at area schools. On Center, Goddard hosts regular colloquiums in engineering, leadership and science. These events are open to the general public, but attendees must sign up in advance to procure a visitors pass for access to the Center’s main grounds. Passes can be obtained at the security office main gate on Greenbelt Road.

Goddard also hosts several different internship opportunities, including NASA DEVELOP at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom and her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visited Goddard Space Flight Center on Tuesday, May 8, 2007. The tour of Goddard was near the end of the queen’s visit to commemorate the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown in Virginia. The queen spoke with crew aboard the International Space Station.[22]

Coordinates: 385949N 765054W / 38.99694N 76.84833W / 38.99694; -76.84833

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Goddard Space Flight Center – Wikipedia

Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Aboard a specially modified Boeing 727-200, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G passengers experience true weightlessness.

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONEflies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is pushed over to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.

In addition to achieving zero gravity, G-FORCE ONEalso flies a parabola designed to offer Lunar gravity (one sixth your weight)and Martian gravity (one third your weight). This is created by flying a larger arc over the top of the parabola.

G-FORCE ONEflies in a FAA designated airspace that is approximately 100 miles long and ten miles wide. Usually three to five parabolas are flown consecutively with short periods of level flight between each set.

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Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Spaceflight – Wikipedia

Spaceflight (also written space flight) is ballistic flight into or through outer space. Spaceflight can occur with spacecraft with or without humans on board. Examples of human spaceflight include the U.S. Apollo Moon landing and Space Shuttle programs and the Russian Soyuz program, as well as the ongoing International Space Station. Examples of unmanned spaceflight include space probes that leave Earth orbit, as well as satellites in orbit around Earth, such as communications satellites. These operate either by telerobotic control or are fully autonomous.

Spaceflight is used in space exploration, and also in commercial activities like space tourism and satellite telecommunications. Additional non-commercial uses of spaceflight include space observatories, reconnaissance satellites and other Earth observation satellites.

A spaceflight typically begins with a rocket launch, which provides the initial thrust to overcome the force of gravity and propels the spacecraft from the surface of the Earth. Once in space, the motion of a spacecraftboth when unpropelled and when under propulsionis covered by the area of study called astrodynamics. Some spacecraft remain in space indefinitely, some disintegrate during atmospheric reentry, and others reach a planetary or lunar surface for landing or impact.

The first theoretical proposal of space travel using rockets was published by Scottish astronomer and mathematician William Leitch, in an 1861 essay “A Journey Through Space”.[1] More well-known (though not widely outside Russia) is Konstantin Tsiolkovsky’s work, ” ” (The Exploration of Cosmic Space by Means of Reaction Devices), published in 1903.

Spaceflight became an engineering possibility with the work of Robert H. Goddard’s publication in 1919 of his paper A Method of Reaching Extreme Altitudes. His application of the de Laval nozzle to liquid fuel rockets improved efficiency enough for interplanetary travel to become possible. He also proved in the laboratory that rockets would work in the vacuum of space;[specify] nonetheless, his work was not taken seriously by the public. His attempt to secure an Army contract for a rocket-propelled weapon in the first World War was defeated by the November 11, 1918 armistice with Germany.

Nonetheless, Goddard’s paper was highly influential on Hermann Oberth, who in turn influenced Wernher von Braun. Von Braun became the first to produce modern rockets as guided weapons, employed by Adolf Hitler. Von Braun’s V-2 was the first rocket to reach space, at an altitude of 189 kilometers (102 nautical miles) on a June 1944 test flight.[2]

Tsiolkovsky’s rocketry work was not fully appreciated in his lifetime, but he influenced Sergey Korolev, who became the Soviet Union’s chief rocket designer under Joseph Stalin, to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles to carry nuclear weapons as a counter measure to United States bomber planes. Derivatives of Korolev’s R-7 Semyorka missiles were used to launch the world’s first artificial Earth satellite, Sputnik 1, on October 4, 1957, and later the first human to orbit the Earth, Yuri Gagarin in Vostok 1, on April 12, 1961.[3]

At the end of World War II, von Braun and most of his rocket team surrendered to the United States, and were expatriated to work on American missiles at what became the Army Ballistic Missile Agency. This work on missiles such as Juno I and Atlas enabled launch of the first US satellite Explorer 1 on February 1, 1958, and the first American in orbit, John Glenn in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962. As director of the Marshall Space Flight Center, Von Braun oversaw development of a larger class of rocket called Saturn, which allowed the US to send the first two humans, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, to the Moon and back on Apollo 11 in July 1969. Over the same period, the Soviet Union secretly tried but failed to develop the N1 rocket to give them the capability to land one person on the Moon.

Rockets are the only means currently capable of reaching orbit or beyond. Other non-rocket spacelaunch technologies have yet to be built, or remain short of orbital speeds. A rocket launch for a spaceflight usually starts from a spaceport (cosmodrome), which may be equipped with launch complexes and launch pads for vertical rocket launches, and runways for takeoff and landing of carrier airplanes and winged spacecraft. Spaceports are situated well away from human habitation for noise and safety reasons. ICBMs have various special launching facilities.

A launch is often restricted to certain launch windows. These windows depend upon the position of celestial bodies and orbits relative to the launch site. The biggest influence is often the rotation of the Earth itself. Once launched, orbits are normally located within relatively constant flat planes at a fixed angle to the axis of the Earth, and the Earth rotates within this orbit.

A launch pad is a fixed structure designed to dispatch airborne vehicles. It generally consists of a launch tower and flame trench. It is surrounded by equipment used to erect, fuel, and maintain launch vehicles.

The most commonly used definition of outer space is everything beyond the Krmn line, which is 100 kilometers (62mi) above the Earth’s surface. The United States sometimes defines outer space as everything beyond 50 miles (80km) in altitude.

Rockets are the only currently practical means of reaching space. Conventional airplane engines cannot reach space due to the lack of oxygen. Rocket engines expel propellant to provide forward thrust that generates enough delta-v (change in velocity) to reach orbit.

For manned launch systems launch escape systems are frequently fitted to allow astronauts to escape in the case of emergency.

Many ways to reach space other than rockets have been proposed. Ideas such as the space elevator, and momentum exchange tethers like rotovators or skyhooks require new materials much stronger than any currently known. Electromagnetic launchers such as launch loops might be feasible with current technology. Other ideas include rocket assisted aircraft/spaceplanes such as Reaction Engines Skylon (currently in early stage development), scramjet powered spaceplanes, and RBCC powered spaceplanes. Gun launch has been proposed for cargo.

Achieving a closed orbit is not essential to lunar and interplanetary voyages. Early Russian space vehicles successfully achieved very high altitudes without going into orbit. NASA considered launching Apollo missions directly into lunar trajectories but adopted the strategy of first entering a temporary parking orbit and then performing a separate burn several orbits later onto a lunar trajectory. This costs additional propellant because the parking orbit perigee must be high enough to prevent reentry while direct injection can have an arbitrarily low perigee because it will never be reached.

However, the parking orbit approach greatly simplified Apollo mission planning in several important ways. It substantially widened the allowable launch windows, increasing the chance of a successful launch despite minor technical problems during the countdown. The parking orbit was a stable “mission plateau” that gave the crew and controllers several hours to thoroughly check out the spacecraft after the stresses of launch before committing it to a long lunar flight; the crew could quickly return to Earth, if necessary, or an alternate Earth-orbital mission could be conducted. The parking orbit also enabled translunar trajectories that avoided the densest parts of the Van Allen radiation belts.

Apollo missions minimized the performance penalty of the parking orbit by keeping its altitude as low as possible. For example, Apollo 15 used an unusually low parking orbit (even for Apollo) of 92.5 nmi by 91.5 nmi (171km by 169km) where there was significant atmospheric drag. But it was partially overcome by continuous venting of hydrogen from the third stage of the Saturn V, and was in any event tolerable for the short stay.

Robotic missions do not require an abort capability or radiation minimization, and because modern launchers routinely meet “instantaneous” launch windows, space probes to the Moon and other planets generally use direct injection to maximize performance. Although some might coast briefly during the launch sequence, they do not complete one or more full parking orbits before the burn that injects them onto an Earth escape trajectory.

Note that the escape velocity from a celestial body decreases with altitude above that body. However, it is more fuel-efficient for a craft to burn its fuel as close to the ground as possible; see Oberth effect and reference.[5] This is another way to explain the performance penalty associated with establishing the safe perigee of a parking orbit.

Plans for future crewed interplanetary spaceflight missions often include final vehicle assembly in Earth orbit, such as NASA’s Project Orion and Russia’s Kliper/Parom tandem.

Astrodynamics is the study of spacecraft trajectories, particularly as they relate to gravitational and propulsion effects. Astrodynamics allows for a spacecraft to arrive at its destination at the correct time without excessive propellant use. An orbital maneuvering system may be needed to maintain or change orbits.

Non-rocket orbital propulsion methods include solar sails, magnetic sails, plasma-bubble magnetic systems, and using gravitational slingshot effects.

The term “transfer energy” means the total amount of energy imparted by a rocket stage to its payload. This can be the energy imparted by a first stage of a launch vehicle to an upper stage plus payload, or by an upper stage or spacecraft kick motor to a spacecraft.[6][7]

Vehicles in orbit have large amounts of kinetic energy. This energy must be discarded if the vehicle is to land safely without vaporizing in the atmosphere. Typically this process requires special methods to protect against aerodynamic heating. The theory behind reentry was developed by Harry Julian Allen. Based on this theory, reentry vehicles present blunt shapes to the atmosphere for reentry. Blunt shapes mean that less than 1% of the kinetic energy ends up as heat that reaches the vehicle and the heat energy instead ends up in the atmosphere.

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo capsules all splashed down in the sea. These capsules were designed to land at relatively low speeds with the help of a parachute. Russian capsules for Soyuz make use of a big parachute and braking rockets to touch down on land. The Space Shuttle glided to a touchdown like a plane.

After a successful landing the spacecraft, its occupants and cargo can be recovered. In some cases, recovery has occurred before landing: while a spacecraft is still descending on its parachute, it can be snagged by a specially designed aircraft. This mid-air retrieval technique was used to recover the film canisters from the Corona spy satellites.

Unmanned spaceflight is all spaceflight activity without a necessary human presence in space. This includes all space probes, satellites and robotic spacecraft and missions. Unmanned spaceflight is the opposite of manned spaceflight, which is usually called human spaceflight. Subcategories of unmanned spaceflight are robotic spacecraft (objects) and robotic space missions (activities). A robotic spacecraft is an unmanned spacecraft with no humans on board, that is usually under telerobotic control. A robotic spacecraft designed to make scientific research measurements is often called a space probe.

Unmanned space missions use remote-controlled spacecraft. The first unmanned space mission was Sputnik I, launched October 4, 1957 to orbit the Earth. Space missions where animals but no humans are on-board are considered unmanned missions.

Many space missions are more suited to telerobotic rather than crewed operation, due to lower cost and lower risk factors. In addition, some planetary destinations such as Venus or the vicinity of Jupiter are too hostile for human survival, given current technology. Outer planets such as Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune are too distant to reach with current crewed spaceflight technology, so telerobotic probes are the only way to explore them. Telerobotics also allows exploration of regions that are vulnerable to contamination by Earth micro-organisms since spacecraft can be sterilized. Humans can not be sterilized in the same way as a spaceship, as they coexist with numerous micro-organisms, and these micro-organisms are also hard to contain within a spaceship or spacesuit.

Telerobotics becomes telepresence when the time delay is short enough to permit control of the spacecraft in close to real time by humans. Even the two seconds light speed delay for the Moon is too far away for telepresence exploration from Earth. The L1 and L2 positions permit 400-millisecond round trip delays, which is just close enough for telepresence operation. Telepresence has also been suggested as a way to repair satellites in Earth orbit from Earth. The Exploration Telerobotics Symposium in 2012 explored this and other topics.[8]

The first human spaceflight was Vostok 1 on April 12, 1961, on which cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin of the USSR made one orbit around the Earth. In official Soviet documents, there is no mention of the fact that Gagarin parachuted the final seven miles.[9] Currently, the only spacecraft regularly used for human spaceflight are the Russian Soyuz spacecraft and the Chinese Shenzhou spacecraft. The U.S. Space Shuttle fleet operated from April 1981 until July 2011. SpaceShipOne has conducted two human suborbital spaceflights.

On a sub-orbital spaceflight the spacecraft reaches space and then returns to the atmosphere after following a (primarily) ballistic trajectory. This is usually because of insufficient specific orbital energy, in which case a suborbital flight will last only a few minutes, but it is also possible for an object with enough energy for an orbit to have a trajectory that intersects the Earth’s atmosphere, sometimes after many hours. Pioneer 1 was NASA’s first space probe intended to reach the Moon. A partial failure caused it to instead follow a suborbital trajectory to an altitude of 113,854 kilometers (70,746mi) before reentering the Earth’s atmosphere 43 hours after launch.

The most generally recognized boundary of space is the Krmn line 100km above sea level. (NASA alternatively defines an astronaut as someone who has flown more than 50 miles (80km) above sea level.) It is not generally recognized by the public that the increase in potential energy required to pass the Krmn line is only about 3% of the orbital energy (potential plus kinetic energy) required by the lowest possible Earth orbit (a circular orbit just above the Krmn line.) In other words, it is far easier to reach space than to stay there. On May 17, 2004, Civilian Space eXploration Team launched the GoFast Rocket on a suborbital flight, the first amateur spaceflight. On June 21, 2004, SpaceShipOne was used for the first privately funded human spaceflight.

Point-to-point is a category of sub-orbital spaceflight in which a spacecraft provides rapid transport between two terrestrial locations. Consider a conventional airline route between London and Sydney, a flight that normally lasts over twenty hours. With point-to-point suborbital travel the same route could be traversed in less than one hour.[10] While no company offers this type of transportation today, SpaceX has revealed plans to do so as early as the 2020s using its BFR vehicle.[11] Suborbital spaceflight over an intercontinental distance requires a vehicle velocity that is only a little lower than the velocity required to reach low Earth orbit.[12] If rockets are used, the size of the rocket relative to the payload is similar to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM). Any intercontinental spaceflight has to surmount problems of heating during atmosphere re-entry that are nearly as large as those faced by orbital spaceflight.

A minimal orbital spaceflight requires much higher velocities than a minimal sub-orbital flight, and so it is technologically much more challenging to achieve. To achieve orbital spaceflight, the tangential velocity around the Earth is as important as altitude. In order to perform a stable and lasting flight in space, the spacecraft must reach the minimal orbital speed required for a closed orbit.

Interplanetary travel is travel between planets within a single planetary system. In practice, the use of the term is confined to travel between the planets of our Solar System.

Five spacecraft are currently leaving the Solar System on escape trajectories, Voyager 1, Voyager 2, Pioneer 10, Pioneer 11, and New Horizons. The one farthest from the Sun is Voyager 1, which is more than 100 AU distant and is moving at 3.6 AU per year.[13] In comparison, Proxima Centauri, the closest star other than the Sun, is 267,000 AU distant. It will take Voyager 1 over 74,000 years to reach this distance. Vehicle designs using other techniques, such as nuclear pulse propulsion are likely to be able to reach the nearest star significantly faster. Another possibility that could allow for human interstellar spaceflight is to make use of time dilation, as this would make it possible for passengers in a fast-moving vehicle to travel further into the future while aging very little, in that their great speed slows down the rate of passage of on-board time. However, attaining such high speeds would still require the use of some new, advanced method of propulsion.

Intergalactic travel involves spaceflight between galaxies, and is considered much more technologically demanding than even interstellar travel and, by current engineering terms, is considered science fiction.

Spacecraft are vehicles capable of controlling their trajectory through space.

The first ‘true spacecraft’ is sometimes said to be Apollo Lunar Module,[14] since this was the only manned vehicle to have been designed for, and operated only in space; and is notable for its non aerodynamic shape.

Spacecraft today predominantly use rockets for propulsion, but other propulsion techniques such as ion drives are becoming more common, particularly for unmanned vehicles, and this can significantly reduce the vehicle’s mass and increase its delta-v.

Launch systems are used to carry a payload from Earth’s surface into outer space.

All launch vehicles contain a huge amount of energy that is needed for some part of it to reach orbit. There is therefore some risk that this energy can be released prematurely and suddenly, with significant effects. When a Delta II rocket exploded 13 seconds after launch on January 17, 1997, there were reports of store windows 10 miles (16km) away being broken by the blast.[16]

Space is a fairly predictable environment, but there are still risks of accidental depressurization and the potential failure of equipment, some of which may be very newly developed.

In 2004 the International Association for the Advancement of Space Safety was established in the Netherlands to further international cooperation and scientific advancement in space systems safety.[17]

In a microgravity environment such as that provided by a spacecraft in orbit around the Earth, humans experience a sense of “weightlessness.” Short-term exposure to microgravity causes space adaptation syndrome, a self-limiting nausea caused by derangement of the vestibular system. Long-term exposure causes multiple health issues. The most significant is bone loss, some of which is permanent, but microgravity also leads to significant deconditioning of muscular and cardiovascular tissues.

Once above the atmosphere, radiation due to the Van Allen belts, solar radiation and cosmic radiation issues occur and increase. Further away from the Earth, solar flares can give a fatal radiation dose in minutes, and the health threat from cosmic radiation significantly increases the chances of cancer over a decade exposure or more.[18]

In human spaceflight, the life support system is a group of devices that allow a human being to survive in outer space. NASA often uses the phrase Environmental Control and Life Support System or the acronym ECLSS when describing these systems for its human spaceflight missions.[19] The life support system may supply: air, water and food. It must also maintain the correct body temperature, an acceptable pressure on the body and deal with the body’s waste products. Shielding against harmful external influences such as radiation and micro-meteorites may also be necessary. Components of the life support system are life-critical, and are designed and constructed using safety engineering techniques.

Space weather is the concept of changing environmental conditions in outer space. It is distinct from the concept of weather within a planetary atmosphere, and deals with phenomena involving ambient plasma, magnetic fields, radiation and other matter in space (generally close to Earth but also in interplanetary, and occasionally interstellar medium). “Space weather describes the conditions in space that affect Earth and its technological systems. Our space weather is a consequence of the behavior of the Sun, the nature of Earth’s magnetic field, and our location in the Solar System.”[20]

Space weather exerts a profound influence in several areas related to space exploration and development. Changing geomagnetic conditions can induce changes in atmospheric density causing the rapid degradation of spacecraft altitude in Low Earth orbit. Geomagnetic storms due to increased solar activity can potentially blind sensors aboard spacecraft, or interfere with on-board electronics. An understanding of space environmental conditions is also important in designing shielding and life support systems for manned spacecraft.

Rockets as a class are not inherently grossly polluting. However, some rockets use toxic propellants, and most vehicles use propellants that are not carbon neutral. Many solid rockets have chlorine in the form of perchlorate or other chemicals, and this can cause temporary local holes in the ozone layer. Re-entering spacecraft generate nitrates which also can temporarily impact the ozone layer. Most rockets are made of metals that can have an environmental impact during their construction.

In addition to the atmospheric effects there are effects on the near-Earth space environment. There is the possibility that orbit could become inaccessible for generations due to exponentially increasing space debris caused by spalling of satellites and vehicles (Kessler syndrome). Many launched vehicles today are therefore designed to be re-entered after use.

Current and proposed applications for spaceflight include:

Most early spaceflight development was paid for by governments. However, today major launch markets such as Communication satellites and Satellite television are purely commercial, though many of the launchers were originally funded by governments.

Private spaceflight is a rapidly developing area: space flight that is not only paid for by corporations or even private individuals, but often provided by private spaceflight companies. These companies often assert that much of the previous high cost of access to space was caused by governmental inefficiencies they can avoid. This assertion can be supported by much lower published launch costs for private space launch vehicles such as Falcon 9 developed with private financing. Lower launch costs and excellent safety will be required for the applications such as Space tourism and especially Space colonization to become successful.

Media related to Spaceflight at Wikimedia Commons

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the laws of physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and do not take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the spacecraft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it is common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see Simulation cockpit).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous, was released on 16 December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (19902007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space”, it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry”, as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X series (19992016)[12] and Eve Online.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (7016180000000000000181015 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky, were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (20052015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Spaceflight Now The leading source for online space news

The privately-developed New Shepard booster, designed and built by Amazon billionaire Jeff Bezoss space company Blue Origin, took off from a launch pad in West Texas, briefly flew into space with an instrumented capsule, and returned to a rocket-assisted landing Sunday in another test before humans climb aboard the suborbital spaceship.

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Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Aboard a specially modified Boeing 727-200, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G passengers experience true weightlessness.

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONEflies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is pushed over to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.

In addition to achieving zero gravity, G-FORCE ONEalso flies a parabola designed to offer Lunar gravity (one sixth your weight)and Martian gravity (one third your weight). This is created by flying a larger arc over the top of the parabola.

G-FORCE ONEflies in a FAA designated airspace that is approximately 100 miles long and ten miles wide. Usually three to five parabolas are flown consecutively with short periods of level flight between each set.

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the laws of physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and do not take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the spacecraft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it is common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see Simulation cockpit).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous, was released on 16 December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (19902007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space”, it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry”, as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X series (19992016)[12] and Eve Online.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (7016180000000000000181015 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky, were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (20052015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the laws of physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and do not take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the spacecraft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it is common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see Simulation cockpit).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous, was released on 16 December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (19902007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space”, it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry”, as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X series (19992016)[12] and Eve Online.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (7016180000000000000181015 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you can’t procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky, were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (20052015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

Spaceflight Now The leading source for online space news

A launch attempt by SpaceXs Falcon 9 rocket Monday was scrubbed. The two-stage launcher will carry into orbit NASAs Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, a planet-hunting observatory that will search for worlds around bright stars in our solar neighborhood. SpaceX says it could make another launch attempt Wednesday at 6:51 p.m. EDT (2251 GMT).

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the Laws of Physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and don’t take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the space craft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it’s common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see SimPit ).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous was released on the 16 of December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (1990-2007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space,” it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry,” as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X (1999-2016)[12] and Eve Online video game series.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (18*10^15 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you cant procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (2005-2015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Aboard a specially modified Boeing 727-200, G-FORCE ONE, weightlessness is achieved by doing aerobatic maneuvers known as parabolas. Specially trained pilots perform these aerobatic maneuvers which are not simulated in any way. ZERO-G passengers experience true weightlessness.

Before starting a parabola, G-FORCE ONEflies level to the horizon at an altitude of 24,000 feet. The pilots then begins to pull up, gradually increasing the angle of the aircraft to about 45 to the horizon reaching an altitude of 34,000 feet. During this pull-up, passengers will feel the pull of 1.8 Gs. Next the plane is pushed over to create the zero gravity segment of the parabola. For the next 20-30 seconds everything in the plane is weightless. Next a gentle pull-out is started which allows the flyers to stabilize on the aircraft floor. This maneuver is repeated 12-15 times, each taking about ten miles of airspace to perform.

In addition to achieving zero gravity, G-FORCE ONEalso flies a parabola designed to offer Lunar gravity (one sixth your weight)and Martian gravity (one third your weight). This is created by flying a larger arc over the top of the parabola.

G-FORCE ONEflies in a FAA designated airspace that is approximately 100 miles long and ten miles wide. Usually three to five parabolas are flown consecutively with short periods of level flight between each set.

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Zero Gravity Flight – Space Adventures

Spaceflight Now The leading source for online space news

A commercial Dragon spacecraft glacially approached the International Space Station on Wednesday, allowing a robotic arm controlled by Japanese astronaut Norishige Kanai to reach out and grapple the supply ship as it soared 250 miles over Africa, completing SpaceXs 14th mission to the research complex, and the second by the same capsule.

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Spaceflight Now The leading source for online space news

A team of SpaceX engineers is building a prototype of the spaceship Elon Musk hopes will one day carry people and cargo deep into the solar system, and it could begin low-altitude testing next year, kicking off a multi-step test campaign before eventually going into space, then perhaps the moon or Mars.

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Space flight simulation game – Wikipedia

A space flight simulation game is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Many games feature space combat, and some games feature commerce and trading in addition to combat.

Some games in the genre aim to recreate a realistic portrayal of space flight, involving the calculation of orbits within a more complete physics simulation than pseudo space flight simulators. Others focus on gameplay rather than simulating space flight in all its facets. The realism of the latter games is limited to what the game designer deems to be appropriate for the gameplay, instead of focusing on the realism of moving the spacecraft in space. Some “flight models” use a physics system based on Newtonian physics, but these are usually limited to maneuvering the craft in its direct environment, and do not take into consideration the orbital calculations that would make such a game a simulator. Many of the pseudo simulators feature faster than light travel.

Examples of true simulators which aim at piloting a space craft in a manner that conforms with the laws of nature include Orbiter, Kerbal Space Program and Microsoft Space Simulator. Examples of more fantastical video games that bend the rules of physics in favor of streamlining and entertainment, include Wing Commander, Star Wars: X-Wing and Freelancer.

The modern space flight game genre emerged at the point when home computers became sufficiently powerful to draw basic wireframe graphics in real-time.[1] The game Elite is widely considered to be the breakthrough game of the genre,[1][2][3] and as having successfully melded the “space trading” and flight sim genres.[4] Elite was highly influential upon later games of its type, although it did have some precursors. Games similar to Elite are sometimes called “Elite-clones”.[5][6][7][8]

Space flight games and simulators, at one time popular, had for much of the new millennium been considered a “dead” genre.[9][10][11][12][13] However, open-source and enthusiast communities managed to produce some working, modern titles (e.g. Orbiter Spaceflight Simulator); and 2011’s commercially released Kerbal Space Program was notably well-received, even by the aerospace community.[14] Some more recent games, most notably Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous, and No Mans Sky, have brought new attention to the space trading and combat game subgenre.

Realistic space simulators seek to represent a vessel’s behaviour under the influence of the Laws of Physics. As such, the player normally concentrates on following checklists or planning tasks. Piloting is generally limited to dockings, landings or orbital maneuvers. The reward for the player is on mastering real or realistic spacecraft, celestial mechanics and astronautics.

Classical games with this approach include Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] The Halley Project (1985), Shuttle (1992) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994).

If the definition is expanded to include decision making and planning, then Buzz Aldrin’s Race Into Space (1992) is also notable for historical accuracy and detail. On this game the player takes the role of Administrator of NASA or Head of the Soviet Space Program with the ultimate goal of being the first side to conduct a successful manned moon landing.

Most recently Orbiter and Space Shuttle Mission 2007 provide more elaborate simulations, with realistic 3D virtual cockpits and external views.

Kerbal Space Program[15] can be considered a space simulator, even though it portrays an imaginary universe with tweaked physics, masses and distances to enhance gameplay. Nevertheless, the physics and rocket design principles are much more realistic than in the space combat or trading subgenres.

The game Lunar Flight (2012) simulates flying around the lunar surface in a craft resembling the Apollo Lunar Module.

Most games in the space combat[16] genre feature futuristic scenarios involving space flight and extra planetary combat. Such games generally place the player into the controls of a small starfighter or smaller starship in a military force of similar and larger spaceships and don’t take into account the physics of space flight, usually often citing some technological advancement to explain the lack thereof. The prominent Wing Commander, X-Wing and Freespace series all use this approach. Exceptions include the first Independence War and the Star Trek: Bridge Commander series, which model craft at a larger scale and/or in a more strategic fashion. It should be noted that I-War also features Newtonian style physics for the behaviour of the space craft, but not orbital mechanics.

Space combat games tend to be mission-based, as opposed to the more open-ended nature of space trading and combat games.

The general formula for the space trading and combat game,[17][18][19][20] which has changed little since its genesis, is for the player to begin in a relatively small, outdated ship with little money or status and for the player to work his or her way up, gaining in status and power through trading, exploration, combat or a mix of different methods.[21][22][1] The ship the player controls is generally larger than that in pure space combat simulator. Notable examples of the genre include Elite, Wing Commander: Privateer, and Freelancer.

In some instances, plot plays only a limited role and only a loose narrative framework tends to be provided. In certain titles of the X series, for instance, players may ignore the plot for as long as they wish and are even given the option to disable the plot completely and instead play in sandbox mode.[21] Many games of this genre place a strong emphasis on factional conflict, leading to many small mission-driven subplots that unravel the tensions of the galaxy.

Games of this type often allow the player to choose among multiple roles to play and multiple paths to victory. This aspect of the genre is very popular, but some people have complained that, in some titles, the leeway given to the player too often is only superficial, and that, in reality, the roles offered to players are very similar, and open-ended play too frequently restricted by scripted sequences.[21] As an example, Freelancer has been criticised for being too rigid in its narrative structure,[22][23] being in one case compared negatively with Grand Theft Auto,[23] another series praised for its open-ended play.[24]

All space trading and combat games feature the core gameplay elements of directly controlling the flight of some sort of space vessel, generally armed, and of navigating from one area to another for a variety of reasons. As technology has improved it has been possible to implement a number of extensions to gameplay, such as dynamic economies and cooperative online play. Overall, however, the core gameplay mechanics of the genre have changed little over the years.

Some recent games, such as 2003’s EVE Online, have expanded the scope of the experience by including thousands of simultaneous online players in what is sometimes referred to as a “living universe”[21][25][26]a dream some have held since the genre’s early beginnings.[27] Star Citizen, a title currently in open, crowd-funded development by Chris Roberts and others involved in Freelancer and Wing Commander, aims to bridge the gap between the EVE-like living universe game and the fast action of other games in the genre.[28]

An additional sub-class of space trading games eliminate combat entirely, focusing instead entirely on trading and economic manipulation in order to achieve success.[citation needed]

Most modern space flight games on the personal computer allow a player to utilise a combination of the WASD keys of the keyboard and mouse as a means of controlling the game (games such as Microsoft’s Freelancer use this control system exclusively[23]). By far the most popular control system among genre enthusiasts, however, is the joystick.[12] Most fans prefer to use this input method whenever possible,[23] but expense and practicality mean that many are forced to use the keyboard and mouse combination (or gamepad if such is the case). The lack of uptake among the majority of modern gamers has also made joysticks a sort of an anachronism, though some new controller designs[12] and simplification of controls offer the promise that space sims may be playable in their full capacity on gaming consoles at some time in the future.[12] In fact, X3: Reunion, sometimes considered one of the more cumbersome and difficult series to master within the trading and combat genre,[29][30] was initially planned for the Xbox but later cancelled.[31] Another example of space simulators is an arcade space flight simulation action game called Star Conflict, where the players can fight in both PvE and PvP modes.

Realistic simulators feature spacecraft systems and instrument simulation, using a combination of extensive keyboard shortcuts and mouse clicks on virtual instrument panels. Most of the maneuvers and operations consist of setting certain systems into the desired configuration, or in setting autopilots. Real time hands on piloting can happen, depending on the simulated spacecraft. For example, it’s common to use a joystick analog control to land a space shuttle (or any other spaceplane) or the LEM (or similar landers). Dockings can be performed more precisely using the numerical keypad. Overall, the simulations have more complex control systems than game, with the limit being the physical reproduction of the actual simulated spacecraft (see SimPit ).

Early attempts at 3D space simulation date back as far as 1974’s Spasim, an online multi-player space simulator in which players attempt to destroy each other’s ships.

The earliest known space trader dates to 1974’s Star Trader, a game where the entire interface was text-only and included a star map with multiple ports buying and selling 6 commodities. It was written in BASIC.

Elite has made a lasting impression on developers, worldwide, extending even into different genres. In interviews, senior producers of CCP Games cited Elite as one of the inspirations for their acclaimed MMORPG, EVE Online.[3][33][34] rlfur Beck, CCP’s co-founder, credits Elite as the game that impacted him most on the Commodore 64.[3] Developers of Jumpgate Evolution, Battlecruiser 3000AD, Infinity: The Quest for Earth, Hard Truck: Apocalyptic Wars and Flatspace likewise all claim Elite as a source of inspiration.[2][35][36][37][38]

Elite was named one of the sixteen most influential games in history at Telespiele, a German technology and games trade show,[39] and is being exhibited at such places as the London Science Museum in the “Game On” exhibition organized and toured by the Barbican Art Gallery.[40] Elite was also named #12 on IGN’s 2000 “Top 25 PC Games of All Time” list,[41] the #3 most influential video game ever by the Times Online in 2007,[42] and “best game ever” for the BBC Micro by Beebug Magazine in 1984.[43] Elite’s sequel, Frontier: Elite II, was named #77 on PC Zone’s “101 Best PC Games Ever” list in 2007.[44] Similar praise has been bestowed elsewhere in the media from time to time.[45][46][47][48][49]

Elite is one of the most popularly requested games to be remade,[30] and some argue that it is still the best example of the genre to date, with more recent titlesincluding its sequelnot rising up to its level.[22][1] It has been credited as opening the door for future online persistent worlds, such as Second Life and World of Warcraft,[42] and as being the first truly open-ended game.[24][50] It is to this day one of the most ambitious games ever made, residing in only 22 kilobytes of memory and on a single floppy disk.[25] The latest incarnation of the franchise, titled Elite: Dangerous was released on the 16 of December 2014, following a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Though not as well known as Elite, Trade Wars is noteworthy as the first multiplayer space trader. A BBS door, Trade Wars was released in 1984[51] as an entirely different branch of the space trader tree, having been inspired by Hunt the Wumpus, the board game Risk, and the original space trader, Star Trader. As a pure space trader, Trade Wars lacked any space flight simulator elements, instead featuring abstract open world trading and combat set in an outer space populated by both human and NPC opponents.[citation needed] In 2009, it was named the #10 best PC game by PC World Magazine.[52]

Elite was not the first game to take flight game mechanics into outer space. Other notable earlier examples include Star Raiders (1979), Space Shuttle: A Journey into Space (1982), Rendezvous: A Space Shuttle Simulation (1982),[4] and Star Trek: Strategic Operations Simulator (1982),[53] which featured five different controls to learn, six different enemies, and 40 different simulation levels of play, making it one of the most elaborate vector games ever released.[54] Other early examples include Nasir Gebelli’s 1982 Apple II computer games Horizon V which featured an early radar mechanic and Zenith which allowed the player ship to rotate,[55][56] and Ginga Hyoryu Vifam, which allowed first-person open space exploration with a radar displaying the destination and player/enemy positions as well as an early physics engine where approaching a planet’s gravitational field pulls the player towards it.[57] Following Elite were games such as The Halley Project (1985), Echelon (1987) and Microsoft Space Simulator (1994). Star Luster, released for the NES console and arcades in 1985, featured a cockpit view, a radar displaying enemy and base locations, the ability to warp anywhere, and a date system keeping track of the current date.[58][59][60]

Some tabletop and board games, such as Traveller or Merchant of Venus, also feature themes of space combat and trade. Traveller influenced the development of Elite (the main character in Traveller is named “Jamison”; the main character in Elite is named “Jameson”) and Jumpgate Evolution.[2][61]

The Wing Commander (1990-2007) series from Origin Systems, Inc. was a marked departure from the standard formula up to that point, bringing space combat to a level approaching the Star Wars films. Set beginning in the year 2654, and characterized by designer Chris Roberts as “World War II in space,” it features a multinational cast of pilots from the “Terran Confederation” flying missions against the predatory, aggressive Kilrathi, a feline warrior race (heavily inspired by the Kzinti of Larry Niven’s Known Space universe).[citation needed] Wing Commander (1990) was a best seller and caused the development of competing space combat games, such as LucasArts’ X-Wing.[62] Wing Commander eventually became a media franchise consisting of space combat simulation video games, an animated television series, a feature film, a collectible card game, a series of novels, and action figures.

Game designer Chris Crawford said in an interview that Wing Commander “raised the bar for the whole industry,” as the game was five times more expensive to create than most of its contemporaries. Because the game was highly successful, other publishers had to match its production value in order to compete. This forced a large portion of the video game industry to become more conservative, as big-budget games need to be an assured hit for it to be profitable in any way. Crawford opined that Wing Commander in particular affected the marketing and economics of computer games and reestablished the “action game” as the most lucrative type of computer game.[63]

The seeming decline of the space flight simulators and games in the late 1990s also coincided with the rise of the RTS, FPS and RPG game genres, with such examples as Warcraft, Doom and Diablo.[12] The very things that made these games classics, such as their open-endedness, complex control systems and attention to detail, have been cited as reasons for their decline.[12][13] It was believed that no major new space sim series would be produced as long as the genre relied on complex control systems such as the keyboard and joystick.[12] There were outliers, however, such as the X (1999-2016)[12] and Eve Online video game series.

Crowdfunding has been a good source for space sims in recent years, however. In November 2012 Star Citizen set a new record, managing to raise more than $114 million as of May 2016,[64] and is still under development. Elite: Dangerous was also successfully crowdfunded on Kickstarter in November and December 2012. The game was completed and released in 2014, and expansions are being released in stages, or “seasons”. Born Ready Games also closed a successful Kickstarter campaign at the end of 2012, having raised nearly $180,000 to assist with the completion of Strike Suit Zero.[65] The game was completed and released in January 2013. Lastly, the non-linear roguelike-like space shooter Everspace garnered almost $250,000 dollars on Kickstarter, and is currently in Early Access.[66]

No Man’s Sky (2016) is another self-published, open-ended space sim (though this one was not crowdfunded). According to the developers, through procedural generation the game is able to produce more than 18 quintillion (18*10^15 or 18,000,000,000,000,000) planets for players to explore.[67] However, several critics found that the nature of the game can become repetitive and monotonous, with the survival gameplay elements being lackluster and tedious. As summarized by Jake Swearingen in New York, “You can procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique planets, but you cant procedurally generate 18.6 quintillion unique things to do.”[68] Further, there was considerable disappointment upon its release among players, as players did not feel it lived up to its perceived hype.[69] Players felt that promotional materials were misleading, and the game was not like what was promised during development.[69] In November 2016, the game’s developer released the Foundation Update, which added some of the missing features players had initially hoped for.[70] A second update featuring working multiplayer may be forthcoming.[71]

Star Citizen, Elite: Dangerous and No Man’s Sky are three ambitious games that many players hoped would fulfill the long-held dream of an open, persistent universe that they can explore, share, and fight each other in.[72] All three succeed and fail at fulfilling this promise in different ways. In a Polygon opinion article, Charlie Hall compared the three games, praising Elite: Dangerous for its look and feel, as well as its combat, but criticizing it for not allowing players to step outside of their ships. He praises Star Citizen’s combat module, Arena Commander, but says the persistent universe module is currently unfinished and unstable. He praises No Man’s Sky for the letting the player explore and walk on a planet’s surface while encountering alien life forms, but says it is least like the others, having poor combat and a smaller scope overall. (The game does not yet have working multiplayer, for instance.[71]) He concludes by writing that players disappointed with any one of the three should be satisfied to try all of them, since each fills its own niche and brings something new and unique to the table.[72]

PC Gamer writer Luke Winkie also compared Star Citizen to No Man’s Sky, describing Star Citizen as “the other super ambitious, controversial space sim on the horizon”, and indicating that fans of the genre, disappointed in No Man’s Sky were turning to the as-yet-unfinished Star Citizen, while sometimes expressing concerns should the latter fail to deliver.[73] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the initial release of Elite: Dangerous a score of 8/10 and considered it to be “probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming”, while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[74] Other sandbox space sims include the Evochron series (2005-2015), and the as-of-yet unfinished Infinity.[75]

On March 10, 2013, the space flight simulator Kerbal Space Program reached the top 5 best selling games after its release on Steam.[76]

The open source community has also been active, with projects such as FS2 Open and Vega Strike serving as platforms for non-professional efforts.[13] Unofficial remakes of Elite[citation needed] and Privateer[77] are being developed using the Vega Strike engine, and the latter has reached the stage where it is offered as a working title to the public. In 2013 a hobbyist space flight simulator project was realized under usage of the open source Pioneer software.[78]

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