Elon Musk is poised to revolutionise spaceflight with his rocket company SpaceX.
The key to that revolution is reusable rockets. That’s because every single rocket today will burn up or become space junk the moment it launches.
If SpaceX can launch its Falcon 9 rocket, land it on a drone ship, and tug it back to shore after every launch, it would bring down the cost of a launch by tens of millions of dollars — suddenly make it affordable to send humans to Mars, which is Musk’s ultimate goal.
But developing that rocket has proven very tricky. Both of SpaceX’s attempts this year to land a rocket upright on a drone ship way out in the ocean ended in pretty fantastic explosions.
Now the MIT Media Lab has created this retro-style video game called SpaceX Falcon 9 Lander. The goal: Land one of SpaceX’s rockets on the drone ship.
It’s surprisingly difficult, as I learned by playing the game:
This game is nowhere near as difficult as actually landing a rocket at sea, but we have a newfound appreciation for Musk’s quest. This comment on the game’s home page pretty much summed up or feelings:
You have to land the rocket using only the arrow keys (gamers will know you can also use the WASD keys). The up arrow controls the rocket’s thrusters; hitting the left and right arrows helps you line up the rocket to land on the drone ship.
Give the game a try here, but go easy on that thruster — you only have a limited amount of fuel to land.
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